Okon Bassey in Uyo
Many children were reportedly missing while trying to escape from the night explosion that occurred Monday at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline that passes through Obotim Nsit community in Nsit Ibom local government area of Akwa Ibom State.
The Niger Delta Avengers had claimed being responsible for blowing up an NNPC pipeline in that area earlier on Monday.
The village head of the community, Chief Akponidung Akpan Ukpong, said several children were missing while trying to flee from the explosion that occurred in the wee hours of Monday.
He said when he came out from his house, he discovered very heavy flames and people started running for safety.
“So many children are missing and we are still looking for them; we have not traced them and many people were taken to the hospital,” he stated.
Besides the missing children, the chief said the explosion damaged the farm lands in the community.
While the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Murtala Mani, claimed that the explosion was not caused by militants’ attack, the Transition Committee Chairman in the area, Mr Victor Umondak, disagreed, saying militants’ activities should not be ruled out from the act.
Mani, who reacted during an interview in Uyo over the NNPC gas pipeline explosion, attributed it to technical faults.
“It is confirmed that there is an explosion in Obotim Nsit in Nsit Ibom Local Government Area of the state,” he said. “People from the pipeline confirmed that the pipelines are old and overdue for servicing; there is
technical problems in the gas pipeline.
“This is no militancy attack; our men are on ground and the fire service has put off the fire.”
Although the incident happened in the night, the Police Commissioner said there was no form of casualty and no house razed..
“Our men are doing finishing touches, our people are completely on ground and the place is well condoned off and secured.
“We are waiting for the experts to give us there reports, so that we can write our report too on the
Incident”, he added.
However, the Transitional Chairman of Nsit Ibom, Mr Umondak, said militants connected wires from the gas pipeline to the road before exploding the pipeline.
According to him, he received a call that his local government area was bombed by militants in Obotim Ikot Ekong and he drove to the scene of incident by 1.30am.
“I received a call that my local government is burning, and I wasn’t really sure of what happened and another person called me that they have blown a pipeline at Obotim Ikot Ekong.
“I drove down but nobody could come near there. We stood about 200 meters because it was as if it was a hellfire”, he said.