Group urges more surveillance on oil infrastructure
Condoles with Abezi explosion victims
Following the carnage in Abezi forest, Mbahu community in Ohaji Egbema Local Council of Imo State, Spaces for Change (S4C) has called on the state and Federal Government to strengthen surveillance on oil communities and infrastructure.
In a statement, yesterday, signed by its Communication Officer, Sefa Ikpa, S4C noted that the move would create employment for the youth and go a long way in guaranteeing the safety of life and property.
Imo was thrown into mourning on Friday, April 22, 2022, following a fire outbreak, at Abaezi forest, which led to the death of over 100 persons.
S4C’s fact-finding mission reportedly gathered that the explosion was a result of illegal oil and gas activities on a site allegedly owned by a native of Abacheke community near the Abaezi forest.
“This is a sad and worrisome development, as victims were burnt beyond recognition, with several others sustaining injuries and several valuables, including cars, destroyed, leaving irreparable effects on the environment.”
“Devastated community members are still shocked at the magnitude of the losses and blame the government for not providing adequate employment and empowerment opportunities for the youth, which pushed them towards seeking alternate sources of income,” S4C stated.
While condoling with the families that lost loved ones in the tragedy, the civil society group joined men of goodwill to pray for swift recovery on the injured, and called for an in-depth investigation into the incident to further unravel illegal refineries still operating in the state to forestall recurrence.
It added: “We hope that those operating the Abaezi illegal refinery will be held accountable for these criminal activities and punished accordingly to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Accordingly, we use this opportunity to encourage the host community, particularly the youth, to desist from illegal bunkering of oil, gas and other petroleum products, which is a crime as stated in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) Section 228(a-b).”