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Six months after Abule Ado explosion, new evidence shows NNPC’s claim as incorrect

SIX months after a deadly explosion at Abule-Ado area around Festac town in Amuwo Odofin Local Government area of Lagos State left over 20 persons dead and many others injured, a new report by the BBC Africa Eye says government explanation for the accident was incorrect

The Sunday, March 15 explosion according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was caused when a truck rammed into gas cylinders stacked in a gas processing plant near a vandalised petroleum gas pipeline.

The incident killed 23 people, including students and principal of Bethlehem Girls’ College, Henrietta Alokha, who died  killed while trying to save her students from the inferno at the school. About 50 houses and several vehicles were damaged on the day, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

But in the report released on Monday, the BBC Africa Eye said the explanation given by the NNPC, Nigeria’s oil firm that the explosion occurred as a result of  a collision by a truck and gas plants was not supported by evidence and incorrect.

According to the report, new video evidence filmed at the explosion site, five minutes before the blast, shows a catastrophic leak of vaporised liquid at the exact location where the NNPC high-pressure petroleum pipeline runs beneath the ground through that area.

It said that the BBC found there was no gas processing plant at the explosion’s epicentre, adding that analysis of gas cylinders found at the site after the blast indicates they could not have been at the centre of the explosion when it happened.

“The evidence the BBC has uncovered indicates the heavily laden truck stopped on an eroded, unsurfaced road that had been softened by rainwater. This could have pressured the pipeline to breaking point, releasing a cloud of vaporised flammable petroleum product that ignited,” the report said.

The report maintained that no evidence supported claim by the NNPC on the cause of the explosion, noting that experts in LPG and petroleum pipeline safety and in explosions analysis who watched the video footage confirmed the huge leak of vaporised liquid could not have come from gas cylinders.

“None of them mentioned gas cylinders or saw a collision. But four of them independently said the leak was coming out of the ground beside the heavily laden truck.”

Ambisisi Ambituuni, a petroleum pipeline safety expert told the BBC the System 2B pipeline network has: “been in existence for way over the lifespan of the pipeline”. He asked: “How is it so difficult for the operator to maintain the safety of those pipelines?”

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The BBC contacted the NNPC which denied any negligence on its part. The report disclosed that NNPC reaffirmed their explanation for the explosion’s cause, and said there was no leakage prior to the explosion.

They also said: “NNPC pipelines comply with safety and regulatory guidelines” and that they: “worked closely with the Lagos State Government in providing a N2billion relief fund for the victims of the explosion.”

According Nairametrics, the NNPC, in the past 18 years, has recorded at least 45,347 explosion incidents across Nigeria, resulting in loss of lives and properties.

It could be recalled that in a series of tweet, former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu pointed fingers when he condemned the explosion and outrightly accused unknown persons for having a hand in the explosion that claimed over a dozen lives and left many injured and others displaced.

“All those who had a hand in this explosion, including those who acted in ways to put lives at risk and hard-earned possessions in jeopardy, must be punished, no matter how highly-placed they may be,” his tweet read in part.

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