The Imo State Police Command officially verified the fatalities of five vandals following an explosion in the Obitti community within the Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area (LGA) of the state on Wednesday.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state, ASP Henry Okoye, affirmed the occurrence of the incident during a telephone conversation with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), stating that the explosion took place on Tuesday.
Okoye further mentioned that the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Aboki Danjuma, has initiated a team to investigate the immediate cause of the incident and apprehend those who fled the scene.
“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 an oil pipeline that passed through the area.
“They dug a hole in the pipeline and connected their long pipe to their tanker to steal oil.
“I cannot say exactly what caused the explosion, but I know that 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.
Report state that in April 2022, a comparable explosion claimed the lives of at least 100 individuals at an illicit oil refining site in the Ohaji/Egbema region of the state.
On May 4 of the same year, two individuals lost their lives in an incident where a bomb exploded at an oil facility, Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria Ltd., situated in Izombe, Oguta Local Government Area of Imo.
However, this incident was suspected to be a bomb attack on the oil facility.