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An unidentified militant group in the Niger Delta region on Tuesday blew up a crude oil trunkline in Ughelli, Delta State, barely 24 hours after Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo led a Federal Government delegation to the area in search of peace.
Osinbajo, accompanied by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; and the Coordinator of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Gen. Paul Boroh, had on Monday visited the traditional ruler of Gbaramatu Kingdom, the Olu of Warri and a cross-session of traditional rulers drawn from Urhobo, Isoko and Ndokwa ethnic nationalities at the PTI Conference Centre.
The attack, which occurred at about 4.35pm behind the SETRACO construction yard along the East/West Express Road in Ughelli, in Ughelli North Local Government, was said not to be unconnected with the alleged ill-treatment and disregard for some monarchs in the state during the Federal Government delegation visit.
The pipeline, operated by the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, was still in flames as of 7pm when our correspondent left Ughelli, the scene of the attack, for Warri on Tuesday.
Although security sources in the state confirmed the attack under the condition of anonymity, none of them could confirm the true cause of the incident.
They stressed that they were mobilising in collaboration with the Delta State Fire Service in the area to put out the inferno.
However, another military source dismissed the claim that militants were responsible for the attack, noting that indiscriminate bush burning was responsible for the inferno.
When contacted on the incident, the spokesperson for the Joint Task Force code-named Operation Delta Safe, Lt. Col. Olaolu Daudu, could not immediately confirm the incident.
He promised to reach out to his men in the area and get back to our correspondent later.
Daudu, however, did not fulfill his promise as of the time of filing this report.