Buhari Declares Imo state Illegal Refinery Explosion ‘National Disaster’
……….Orders Security Agencies to Intensify Clampdown on Illegal Refineries
President Muhammadu Buhari has described the illegal refinery explosion in Imo state as “a catastrophe and a national disaster,” even as he called on security agencies to intensify the clamp down on illegal oil refineries and their owners in any part of the country.
The President’s comments contained in a statement issued yesterday by Presidency spokesman, Garba Shehu, comes just as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) provided an update last Sunday that the number of dead victims in the Friday night, illegal refinery fire at Abaezi forest in Ohaji-Egbema local government area of the state had risen to 110.
Garba said the President has directed security agencies to intensify the fight against the activities of illegal refinery operators in the country.
The President also said that the responsibility for the loss of lives and property in the Imo incident “must squarely lie with the sponsors” of the illegal refinery, and therefore assured the general public that the operators and sponsors of the refinery “must all be caught and made to face justice.”
President Buhari condoled with the families of the explosion victims, the community and the people of Imo state, and charged the community leaders and the operatives of the Nigerian Police Force to take steps to ensure that such a “heartbreaking incident” does not reoccur in any part of the country.
Crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal oil refining have appeared to be a lucrative business in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Unfortunately, it has also become one major cause of death in the country.
In Rivers State, air pollution caused by black suits from illegal crude oil refineries has become a major threat to the lives of the residents of Port Harcourt, the capital city and its environs.
Nigerian looses as much as $4 billion annually to oil theft. Analysts have also attributed Nigeria’s perennial oil production shortfall majorly to crude oil theft.