Nigeria oil tanker explosion
People gather at the scene next to the bodies of the victims after a Nigerian petrol tanker tipped over and pools of spilled oil caught fire in Okogbe on July 12, 2012. Getty Images

Oil truck tanker explosions in southern Nigeria kill as many people as terror group Boko Haram, according to a report by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists?

Boko Haram fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law on the country. The group declared an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, in August 2014.

Boko Haram has raided several cities in the north of the country in a bid to take control of more land.

Three states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013, due to Boko Haram's attacks.

A statement released by the union warned that the rate at which tanker explosions are claiming lives is comparable to the death rate resulting from the terrorist group's deadly insurgence, which has killed thousands in the northeast of the country since 2009.

"Tanker explosions had unacceptably taken just as many lives as Boko Haram insurgency does in recent times. Indeed, what we have at hand were not accidents but avoidable incidents due to lack of good governance with respect to the mismanaged petroleum downstream sub-sector," the statement read.

"We must return to the era in which petroleum products were moved from refineries through protected pipelines to depots at short distances which puts less burden on drivers and no risk at all on communities.

"It is bad that we import petroleum products. However, it is worse that Nigeria moves highly inflammable products (which are indeed mobile bombs), through hundreds of bad roads. It is a peculiar Nigerian underdevelopment that must stop with the new administration of President Muhammed Buhari."

Although Nigeria is Africa's biggest crude oil producer, the country's lack of refineries, means that it has to import fuel and transport it with poorly maintained tankers driven on bad roads.


Capital: Abuja

Population: 174,507,53 (2013 census)

Largest cities: Lagos, Kano, Abuja

Major ethnic groups: 21% Yoruba, 21% Hausa,
18% Igbo

Languages: English, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba

Religion: 50% Muslim, 40% Christian, 10% other

Currency: Naira (N) 1N = £0.0033; US$0.0050

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of road accidents in Africa and deadly explosions are often caused after tankers transporting fuel collide with other vehicles.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, government spokeman Mike Omeri declined to comment on the NLC's statement, but added that the government is working to solve the problem.

"It's about the life of citizens, of course the government is doing something about it, it is already investigating the issue," he said.

Nigeria oil

Pipeline explosions have also caused thousands of deaths with most of the incidents occuring when thieves rupture pipelines to steal fuel.

Olayemi Akande, a prominent Nigerian blogger based in Lagos, told IBTimes UK: "In my own view, many of the oil tankers usually lose control while in motion resulting in many accidents.

"They [drivers] also speed at a rate the vehicles' brakes cannot handle. I guess many of their brakes are not good enough.

"In my opinion, their movements should be restricted to midnight, when there is no traffic, or separate lanes [should] be created for them."

Referring to pipeline explosions, which have often occurred in Lagos, she said: "Many of the pipeline explosion are man-made to my knowledge. Intentional acts by people of the community to punish the pipeline owners or for their selfish commercial gains."

Deadliest oil tanker explosions in Nigeria

Oyo State - 5 November 2000

Between 100 and 200 people died in Ibadan, Oyo state in November 2000 when a truck tanker exploded after a break failure caused it to collide with other vehicles. Dozens of people burned alive as they were trapped in their vehicles following the road incident.

River state - 12 July 2012

One of the deadliest tanker explosions occurred in Okobie, a village in the southern River state, on 12 July 2012, when an estimated 121 people died after a tanker truck fell into a ditch, spilled the oil it was transporting and later exploded. Reports said that some 75 people were injured in the explosion and dozens of vehicles were destroyed.

Edo state - 5 April 2013

At least 36 people were killed when a oil tanker collided with a bus in Igbogui village, Edo state.

Onitsha state - 1 June 2015

At least 69 people died at a bus station in Onitsha, capital of southern Anambra state, when a runaway oil tanker truck exploded. A few days later, some 70 shops and 34 houses were burned when a tanker containing petrol exploded in Idimu , Lagos. The accident occurred shortly after another explosion took place in the Lagos' area of Iyana-Ipaja. No injuries were reported in both incidents.

Deadliest pipeline explosions in Nigeria

Delta state - 18 October 1998

Up to 1,000 people are believed to have died after a pipeline exploded in the Jesse community, Delta state. According to the government, the explosion was caused by thieves who punctured the pipeline to steal oil. However, other reports alleged that the explosion was caused by lack of maintenance and prudence as a cigarette ignited the fire. The Jesse community explosion is considered the deadliest to have occurred in Nigeria.

Warri (now Delta state) - 14 July 2000

At least 300 people died following a pipeline explosion in Warri. The majority of people who died were schoolchildren. Witnesses said the pipeline was punctured by street vendors who tired to steal fuel to resell it on the roadside.

Lagos - 12 May 2006

At least 150 people died in Atlas Creek. According to the Nigerian Red Cross, the explosion was caused by some vandals who drilled oil in the pipeline to steal oil.

Lagos - 26 December 2006

The explosion occurred in Abule Egba , a neighbourhood of Lagos, is the second deadliest as up to 500 people are believed to have died after thieves punctured a pipeline prompting hundreds of scavengers to rush to the site to collect fuel in plastic containers. The cause of the explosion is unknown.

Lagos - 16 May 2008

Up to 100 people died in a pipeline explosion in Ijegun, a suburb in Lagos. According to the Lagos police, the explosion was an accident, and not the work of thieves.