The increasing attacks in the southwest target gasoline, instead of crude, pipelines running through the region owned by the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. The pipelines remain a vital source of fuel for a nation that largely imports most of its gasoline in a multi-billion dollar system that lawmakers described as a massive scam last year. Officials blamed a pipeline attack in the region this December for causing short supplies and a run on gas stations in Lagos, as well as other parts of the country. Another pipeline attack about two weeks ago near Lagos likely killed dozens, officials have said, though failing to provide an exact tally of the dead.
But whether anything will be done to stop the attacks remains unclear at this point. On Wednesday, rifle-carrying members of the Security and Civil Defense Corps reinforced those near the burning pipeline. A cry went up among the officers that the state governor might be coming. A fire truck even showed up, though it was impossible for it to drive into the swamp to reach the burning inferno.
After about a half hour, however, the fire truck turned around and drove away. The civil defense officers also mounted their trucks and drove away, with one young officer firing his assault rifle into the air, though no one was around except for three foreign journalists.
At that point, as the sun began to set, the fire still burned without any government official to monitor it.
Jon Gambrell can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.