The Police command in Imo on Wednesday, confirmed the death of five vandals in an explosion that rocked Obitti community in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
The State’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Henry Okoye, who confirmed the incident in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the explosion occurred on Tuesday.
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Okoye said the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Aboki Danjuma, had already set up a team to unravel the immediate cause of the incident and arrest fleeing culprits.
“Yes, the incident happened yesterday (Tuesday).
“Five vandals were burnt beyond recognition and we are currently investigating it in collaboration with our sister security agencies to unravel the identities of those behind the economic sabotage.
“They went for their normal pipeline vandalism when the incident occurred.
“Our goal is to make sure that similar vandalism does not occur in the future,” the police spokesman, said.
A source, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that the vandals had stormed the Obitti Rubber Estate in the area with an articulated vehicle and dug through to an oil pipeline that passed through the area.
“They dug a hole on the pipeline and connected their long pipe to their tanker to steal oil.
“I cannot say exactly what caused the explosion but I know and from what I saw, many people died, and many others, who narrowly escaped the explosion, sustained various degrees of injuries.
“The fire that raged for hours burnt the tanker and also affected our farm produce worth millions of naira,” the source said.
Arabella Star Magazine recalls that in April 2022, at least 100 people lost their lives in a similar explosion that occurred at an illegal oil refining site in Ohaji/Egbema area of the state.
On May 4, same year, two persons also died when a bomb exploded at an oil facility – Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria Ltd., located in Izombe, Oguta Local Government Area of the state.
However, the incident was a suspected bomb attack on the oil facility.