As a result of incessant pipelines vandalism in some parts of Lagos suburbs, scores of protesters from Ijegun in Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Alimosho, Lagos State had recently staged a peacful protest to the Seat of power, Alausa, appealing to the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to rescue the area from destruction.
Specifically, the protesters demanded compensation for victims of the recent fire disaster in the area, decried security challenges facing the residents.
There was a pipeline explosion in Ijegun on July 4 at 5-Junction, Ijegun as a result of the activities of vandals with several casualties.
The protesters, who included traditional chiefs, academics, market men and women, landlords, youth leaders among others, chanted different solidarity songs to drive home their demands.
They hoisted placards with various inscriptions which included “Thorough Investigation Requested on Vandals,” “Compensation For Victims,” “Redredging the Canals At Ijegun.” and “We Say No To Vandals In Ijegun Community.”
Others were: “Petrol Tankers Are Not Allowed between the Hours of 10pm and 5am,” “Please Save Our Souls in Ijegun Community,” and “Save Ijegun from Fire Disaster and Extinction.”
Mr Wale Akinbo, the Chairman, Joint Community Development Association (CDA), Ijegun, and Mr Saliu Alade, Councilor, Ijegun Ward D in the LCDA, who led the protest urged the House and the Governor to intervene in their pains.
According to the duo, the House and the Governor should treat the plights of residents as a matter of urgent public importance for residents to sleep with two eyes closed.
In a communiqué jointly signed by Akinbo, Alade and the Secretary of Strategic Security Committee, Ijegun, Mr Oguntulu Oluwatosin, the residents of the area called for protection and security.
The communiqué dated July 22 and differently addressed to Gov. Sanwo-Olu and the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa urged the government to also fix roads and carnal in the state.
The residents demanded that the government as a matter of urgency should deploy and station security personnel around the pipeline routes where the vandals usually operate most especially at the 5-Junction.
They added that the government should construct barricades in form of barrier across the entrances of streets leading to the pipeline routes.
“That government should stop forthwith the approval of more filling stations /gas plants in Ijegun environ as they are too many, most of which are concentrated in and around residential areas in Ijegun.
“That henceforth the tanker drivers should be stopped from parking their tankers along the pipeline routes.
“That government should construct concrete blockages around the preferred spots of the vandals to make digging difficult and almost impossible for them,” the communiqué read.
The residents added that petrol tankers should be restricted from moving into and outside of Ijegun through both Ikotun-Ijegun road and Isolo road between the hours of 10pm – 5am in the morning.
They requested further that the government should make arrangement for financial compensation for both the victims and those that lost their properties.
The communiqué added: “The government should look into the dredging of the canal that linked IBA LCDA from Awolumate Street by the Catholic Church in Ijegun as a matter of urgency.
“The Kabiyesi and the entire people of Ijegun wish to express our profound appreciation to your Excellency Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu for the prompt response of your Excellency toward the plight of the community.”
The communiqué said that Oba Nureni Olomitutu (Ilufemiloye), the Kudeyibu I Onijegun of Ijegun land had inaugurated a strategic security committee anchored around the Ijegun joint CDA.
The residents said that the committee was saddled with the responsibility of brainstorming and coming up with high level suggestions aimed at putting an end to the dastardly activities of the pipeline vandals.
They added that activities of the vandals had led to wanton destruction of lives and properties and an obvious economic loss for the nation at large.
Addressing the protesters on behalf of the Speaker, Hon. Rotimi Olowo (APC-Somolu I), who commended them for the peaceful manner, said the House shared their concerns and demands.
Olowo commiserated with the residents of the area over the death of their neighbours and stressed that it was important for the government to look into their demands.
The lawmaker, who was accompanied by another lawmaker representing Alimosho Constituency 1, Hon. Bisi Yusuff, promised that their letter would be delivered to the Speaker of the House and debated by the lawmakers.
Meanwhile, Mr Hundeyin Kolawole, the Director, Office of Civic Engagement, who received the communiqué on behalf of Governor Sanwo-Olu, promised the protesters that the matter would be addressed by the state government in due course.
In a swift move the State House of Assembly during its plenary same day the protesters stormed the House came up with a number of resolutions to address the problem.
On Monday 22, July passed a resolution calling on the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) and Sanwo-Olu to protect pipelines to curtail vandals’ hazards.
The protesters among other things also demanded compensation for victims of the recent fire disaster occasioned by the activities of pipeline vandals, restriction of tankers, stoppage of approval filling stations /gas plants in Ijegun environs.
Speaking during plenary, Olowo who earlier in the day addressed the protesters and received their petition letter on behalf of the Speaker, said that bunkering had become a big business in the area unabated.
“This latest pipeline explosion is one too many. Mr Speaker, that particular community has suffered too long as regards vandalism and destruction of lives and property.
“When you talk about bunkering, it is a big business backed by very rich people in terms of logistics and transportation. It is not what the community can withstand.
“It is unfortunate that we are losing lives. The government should come to the aid of people who suffered losses. We need a patrol and stationary Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) at the area,” he said.
He said that NNPC and the Lagos State Government should collaborate to end the trend and help the victims of the latest victims of pipeline explosion.
Reading the resolutions of the House, Olowo said: “This House call on the Governor of Lagos State to provide and station security personnel around pipelines where the vandals usually operate.
“The government should stop tanker drivers from packing their tankers around the pipelines and that the NNPC as a matter of urgency provide barricade to protect pipelines and to prevent vandals.
“That the state government should provide support for the victims, especially those that lose their lives and their property as well as conduct thorough investigations nd prosecutions of vandals,”
Speaking in the same vein, Hon. Bisi Yusuff, (APC-Alimosho I), who joined Olowo said that the whole of Alimosho was under threat by the bunkers and not Ijegun area.
Yusuff added that pipeline bunker had ravaged Baruwa, Aboru, Abule-Egba where more than 80 persons died, saying the trend had prevented people from sleeping with their two eyes closed.
The lawmaker decried the negligence of NNPC was too much for not providing adequate surveillance on its pipelines.
Hon. Kehinde Joseph, representing Alimosho II where the latest pipeline explosion took place described the scene as gory, saying that no fewer than 18 persons died while many sustained several degrees of fire injuries.
Joseph, who noted that NNPC and some security agents were culpable, called for compensation of the victims and justice for the apprehended vandals.
He said that the government should look into the demand of residents calling for restriction of tankers in and out of the area between 10:00p.m and 5:00 am.
In his remark, the Speaker said: “We sincerely sympathise and share grieves of the relatives of the victims and we also commiserate with the people of Ijegun and entire Alimosho.
“It is needful for the government to ensure protection of lives and property and there is need for us to call on our government, for now to bring about security in the area mentioned.
“We just have to do something about this; we don’t have to fold our hands.
“So, it is acceptable to me to call on His Excellency to provide security and also to look at some of the requests of this joint CDAs most especially coming to the aid of the victims and helping them.
“Some of them lost their houses and family members. And see how we can be of help to these people. There is the need to call on NNPC to protect the pipelines from the vandals,” Obasa said.
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