Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday in Abuja regretted what he described as unnecessary loss of life and property in a pipeline explosion that rocked Osisioma Ngwa community in Abia State on Friday morning.
Likewise, the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Bola Tinubu condemned the fresh communal crisis at Kasuwan Magani in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State in which 55 people reportedly died.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the Presidential, Mallam Garba Shehu, Buhari said preliminary reports by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) showed that the explosion was not accidental, but caused by vandals who punctured the pipelines to scoop the products. According to him, despite repeated warnings,
unscrupulous persons have vandalised that particular pipeline 684 times in the last six months alone.
Shehu stated, “Each time the pipeline is repaired, they resume their activities, even collaborating with security agents, who are reported to have set up toll gates collecting fees from the vandals.
“A fight broke out as a heist was going on and there was shooting, which is believed to have ignited Friday morning’s explosion, during which three security personnel also lost their lives.”
The statement quoted Buhari as urging communities and state governments which host oil pipelines to be more vigilant and rise up to combat the menace of pipeline vandalism. He recalled that Enugu depot of the NNPC, which he said had been repaired and was ready to function, had remained idle till date because of the activities of vandals.
“The president also appeals to host communities to collaborate with the NNPC to tame oil pipeline vandalism in their areas,” the statement added.
In another statement, Shehu said Buhari condemned the latest communal violence in Kasuwan Magani in Kaduna State, which claimed 55 lives. He said Buhari lamented the frequent resort to bloodshed by Nigerians over misunderstandings that could be resolved peacefully.
He quoted the president as saying, “No culture and religion support the disregard for the sanctity of life,” adding: “peaceful coexistence is necessary for the progress of any society and its wellbeing.”
Shehu also said Buhari noted that without communal harmony, the environment for the conduct of “our everyday businesses would be impossible to achieve.”
He said the president explained, “Violence cannot be an alternative to peace,” adding, “On the contrary, reliance on violence leads to ultimate self-destruction. Violence is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Embracing peace is a necessity.”
The statement added that in commending the Kaduna State government for its rapid response to the crisis, the president appealed to community leaders to engage in regular dialogue to nip imminent crises in the bud. It added that Buhari admonished the people to develop the spirit of tolerance and patience at all times.
In a statement in Lagos at the weekend by his Media Office, Tinubu said it was essential for people of various religious groups and persuasions to accommodate one another and live in peace and harmony.
Twenty-two suspects were arrested and quizzed by the police in the wake of the crisis sparked on Thursday by restive youths in Kajuru Local Government Area of the state.
The APC leader admonished traditional, religious and youth leaders to embrace peace and put an end to the mayhem and bloodshed, which first reared its ugly head in the area in February this year claiming 10 persons.
He particularly urged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in Kaduna State and in the troubled area to inculcate in their members and youths generally the importance of peaceful co-existence and the sanctity of human life, saying without peace and tranquillity, a society cannot make any meaningful progress.
“Security agencies must also be alive to their responsibilities and step up their intelligence gathering mechanism.
The police should be pro-active so they nip any deadly attack in the bud before they are hatched. We must bring all the perpetrators of this fresh attack to book, they must be made to face the full wrath of the law in order to serve as a deterrent against any future nefarious plan,” he added.
el-Rufai had after the problem begun imposed a two-hour curfew on the area. He later visited the area on Friday to assess the situation. The Commissioner of Police in the state, Ahmad AbdulRahman, also visited the area to engage youth leaders, traditional and religious leaders in a bid to check further bloodshed.