Abaezi explosion: Ihedioha, Okorocha, Imo Speaker express sadness
• Nwosu attributes the incident to poverty, unemployment, calls for employment policy
• Imo lawmaker calls for the integration of artisanal refineries into oil, gas sector
Former Governors of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha and Emeka Ihedioha, have expressed shock over last weekend’s explosion, which occurred in Abaezi forest in Ohaji /Egbema Local Council of the state, where about 110 persons were burnt to death, describing the incident as an unfortunate and avoidable loss of human life and property.
The duo also called for a detailed investigation of the disaster, calling on the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, to raise a judicial panel of inquiry to investigate the inferno.
Also, the Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Kennedy Ibeh, has commiserated with families who lost loved ones.
On the way forward, a former Imo State governorship candidate, under the Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA) in the 2019 governorship election, Brady Chijioke Nwosu, advised the Imo State government to put in place a formidable employment policy/programme to employ Imo youths to dissuade them from illegal activities.
Their media aides, Chibuike Onyeukwu and Sam Onwuemedo issued Ihedioha and Okorocha’s statements, yesterday, respectively.
The statement said: “Emeka Ihedioha has received, with shock and sadness, the news of the fire outbreak that claimed over 100 lives and property at an illegal refinery located at Abaeze in Ohaji Egbema Local Council of Imo State.
“Ihedioha describes the incident as “unfortunate and avoidable while calling for full investigation and prosecution of all those behind the carnage to avert future occurrence.”
MEANWHILE, a lawmaker representing Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta, Oru Federal Constituency, Imo State, Kingsley Uju-Chima, has called for the integration of artisanal refineries into the country’s refining regulations of the oil and gas industry.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker said the proposed artisanal refinery was a possible permanent solution to the menace associated with illegal oil bunkering.
Uju-Chima made the call, yesterday, following a visit to the site of Friday’s fire incident that killed over 100 people at an illegal bunkering site in his constituency.
He said: “It is a national disaster, which has put the entire community, local council and constituency into a mourning mood. No amount of words will compensate for the situation I have seen here today.”
“We have had a lot of bills and motions at the National Assembly in the past and I have seen the reason why we should take this more seriously. I have seen the reason why, as Nigerians and people of oil-producing areas, we should have collaborative efforts to curb this menace of oil bunkering,” he added.
“Sometime ago, I proposed artisanal refinery as a possible permanent solution to this menace. I know in the western world, they have grade A, grade B and grade C fuel; so if this illegal business could continue unabated despite security agents within this place, then we will try to see, through legislation, whether we can have depots and artisanal refineries to put permanent stop to this menace.”