Imo: Owners Of Illegal Refineries On The Run
Information reaching Naija News House says that Owners Of Illegal Refineries On The Run
Top operators of over 150 illegal oil refineries between the forests of Abaezi and Abacheke communities in Ohaji/Egbema local government area of Imo State with boundary with Rivers State, yesterday, abandoned their sites after the Imo State government had declared one Okenze Onyewoke wanted, after linking him with the Abaezi illegal oil refinery that exploded and killed over 100 lives and damaged vehicles Friday night.
It was gathered from the affected community that the suspects were also on the run.
Not only that, landowners who offered their land in exchange for money to be used for illegal oil refineries had disappeared to nearby states, Rivers State and Bayelsa to take refuge.
However, even at the time of filing this report, some groups were said to have been in the forest hurriedly discharging the petroleum products in their bunkers for fear of being captured by the security operatives.
“Even last night and early hours of Sunday, there were still buyers of the products driving through the bush paths trying to evade security operatives.
“For now, many people have abandoned their sites. Those you can find in the forest were their boys trying to sell the remaining petroleum products.”
He added: “The buying and selling activities take place at night. I think by today, you will not find anybody in the forest again. For them to be safe, they will concentrate on selling to buyers from Rivers because the forest through which you get to the sites in Imo State has more presence of security operatives.”
A community leader told Vanguard: “Those who gave their land for this bunkering business have been identified and they will be reported to the government because they are collaborators in this economic sabotage. All of them have run away. We know them.”
Reacting, the Imo State government through the Imo State Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, said the government has declared one Okenze Onyewoke wanted so as to use him to serve as a deterrent to others doing the same business.
According to Opiah: “The governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma has declared the owner of the illegal bunkering Okenze Onyewoke wanted. Anywhere he is seen, he will be arrested and used to teach others doing this business a big lesson.
“We have warned people severally to stop these illegal oil bunkering and I think this will serve as a lesson to others venturing into this business.
“We also sympathize with the families of those who lost their lives in this unfortunate incident. Most of the people who are engaging in this act are from Rivers, Bayelsa and other neighbouring states and it is sabotage for our people to allow this illegal activity to continue.”
Meantime, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the nation’s security and intelligence agencies to intensify the clampdown on illegal refineries to safeguard the lives of citizens.
The president’s directive is contained in a statement by his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, yesterday in Abuja.
The presidential aide said the directive followed the reported deaths of scores of people on Friday night after an illegal refinery exploded at Abaezi forest in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo.
Reacting to what he described as a “catastrophe and a national disaster,” the President said responsibility for the loss of lives and property must squarely lie with the sponsors of the illegal refinery who must all be caught and made to face justice.”
The President conveyed “the condolences and the full depth and range of the nation’s shock and trauma” to the families of the victims, the Ohaji Egbema community and the government and people of Imo State.
He urged community leaders, police, and the secret service to never allow the occurrence of heart-breaking incidents in any part of the country again.