A man was on Thursday burnt to death at a river into which petrol from a breached pipeline spilled in the Alimosho area of Lagos. The deceased was said to have gone to the river for a spiritual bath. The second victim, a prophet, who reportedly took charge of the bath, was in very critical condition, locals said.
They were burnt at the Abegunri River through which petroleum pipelines passed. The fire affected at least four other locations within the swamp.
The victims were alleged to have ignored warnings to leave the place.
According to sources, vandals had breached a pipeline, causing a spillage in the river.
A resident said: “A man who drove a jeep and parked at Two Story with a White Garment Prophet came early morning to bathe. They brought sacrifices of fruits and about four white chickens. We advised them not to enter the water and showed them the fuel but the men insisted that it was the last day of the prayer and the bath must be done. They entered the water and the prophet tried to light a candle as part of their sacrifice. Fire started. That was how they got burnt.”
It was observed that another fire point close to Goodluck Jonathan Estate was still raging at about 1 pm with emergency workers unable to access the point. It was gathered that firefighters were still battling to put out another fire point behind Peace Estate, Baruwa at about 2 pm despite the heavy downpour.
Our reporter, who was at the scene, observed that firemen from the Federal Service who arrived at the scene from their office at Ojuelegba ran out of water to continue the operation and were awaiting a refill.
Most of the residents decried frequent vandals’ activities on the pipelines, claiming that the criminals usually came up to four times a week with tankers.
They alleged that the vandals were usually escorted by armed security agents.
Contacted, the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Dr Femi Oke-Osayintolu said the situation has been brought under control. He said the fire has been localised, adding that a holistic investigation would be conducted on the issue.
Oke-Osayintolu said the prophet sustained over 70-degree burns, adding that he was rushed to the Alimosho General Hospital where he was being treated.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of Operations Mohammed Ali who was at the scene appealed to residents to always volunteer information on criminals’ activities.
“Before this happened, one or two residents must have noticed activities of the vandals but they never volunteered such information. It was when this happened that our people got information and then rushed here to tackle it.
“Moving forward, we should work together rather than shifting blames. We have given out our telephone numbers, the control numbers are there as well. People should reach us and they should rest assured we will be there for them.
“This incident is quite unfortunate. Under normal circumstances, when someone is being warned of inherent danger, he or she is expected to give peace a chance. I was made to understand they were warned before they came here for their spiritual bath. They were warned by NNPC officials, policemen and other people around that petrol was spilling through the water to this end and they saw it.
“One of them said on Thursday was their last day for the spiritual bath and there was no going back. That simply means he saw danger and decided to dip his hands into it. They paid with their lives. We all know petrol is highly inflammable and with just a strike of a match, everywhere would be engulfed by fire.
“There should be no hiding place for anyone either conspiring or enabling this crime. We want to know those behind it. If there is any policeman they know who is in the business, they should tell us. If they don’t feel safe providing information to the local police, they should contact the command headquarters and we assure that they will be treated with utmost confidentiality.
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