Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Akwa Ibom State Government and the state police command yesterday debunked the claim by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) of bombing pipelines in Ikot Osutek axis in Oruk-Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The state government called for calm among citizens who might have been troubled by the purported development.
Reacting to the rumours after a visit to the site, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mr. Aniekan Umanah, stated that “there is no iota of truth in the claims making the rounds on social media,” stating that what happened was an eruption occasioned by leakage in the old pipeline of the Nigerian Gas Company, NGC, which traversed the area.
He further emphasised that “no pipeline has been bombed in Akwa Ibom State” adding that “those peddling such rumours are ignorant of the true situation in the affected area.”
According to the commissioner, “as at Thursday (yesterday) morning, when security operatives and officials of the state government visited Ikot Osute, the state Ministry of Environment, NGC personnel and other gas companies operating the area were on site, working round the clock to ensure safety in the area.”
Umanah enjoined the people of the state and indeed Nigerians to remain calm and go about their businesses as government was committed to protecting lives and property of all citizens in the state.
He promised that security agents had cordoned off the area to forestall against any eventuality.
On his part, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Murtala Mani, said the alleged explosion was an accident as a result of leakage in the gas pipelines sited in the area.
Mani urged members of the public not to be afraid of the claim by NDA, arguing that the accident was a technical problem and that some engineers from Port Harcourt were working to rectify the leakage.
The state, he said, was very safe for the residents to go about their normal daily activities.
He added that Akwa Ibom State was not a territory for any militant group like the NDA to operate.
Sources said the said gas pipelines were owned by the Seven Energy Company, the operator of Ibom Gas Power Plant in Uquo in Esit-Eket Local Government Area of the state.
The community, Ikot Osutek, where the leakage of the gas pipelines is identified, is along Ikot Abasi-Ogoni-Port Harcourt axis of the East West Road in Akwa Ibom.
THISDAY gathered that residents in the state especially those in the area where the explosion occurred were afraid given the revelation that NDA had vandalised 23 gas pipelines since February 14 when it started attacks.