Connect with us

metro

Over 100 killed, vehicles razed as illegal refinery explodes in Imo

Published

on

No few than 100 people were killed on Friday night after an illegal refinery went up in flames at Abaezi community in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.

Also, six vehicles were razed during the incident which threw the community into mourning.

Hundreds of people, Sunday PUNCH observed, visited the scene of the incident on Saturday to have a glimpse of the unfortunate development.

Our correspondent counted no fewer than 50 bodies burnt beyond recognition at the scene of the fire explosion, which was said to have happened at about 8pm.

The state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, told our correspondent at the crime scene that the state government had declared the owner of the illegal refinery, Okenze Onyenwoke, wanted.

He advised the suspect whom he said was on the run to surrender himself at the nearest police station.

The Commissioner said, “This is a sad development. The Imo State Government has declared wanted Okenze Onyenwoke, who owns this illegal refinery. I advise him to hand himself over to the police or any security agency.

“This is wickedness; this is an economic sabotage. It is also destroying our youths. I therefore call on the youths to go away from this kind of illegitimate business. There are so many legitimate businesses one could do to make genuine money.”

An Indigene of the community, who identified himself simply as Ejike, told Sunday PUNCH that every person at the illegal refinery site was killed in the explosion, adding that over 100 people lost their lives in the incident.

READ ALSO:

Ejike added that those who survived the explosion and were rushed to the hospital died on Saturday morning.

“No single person survived. Those who were rescued yesterday have all died this morning. The casualty figure is over 100. This is sad. People are rushing to look for their relations but the unfortunate thing is that the victims were burnt beyond recognition,” Ekije said.

Another indigene of the community, who identified himself as a local security operative, said people came from the South-East and South-South states to buy the illegal product in the community.

He said, “People come from Rivers, Bayelsa, Anambra, Abia states, even from Onitsha, to buy the product. It is a very active bunkering site. People come here in hundreds and the owner is a big man.

“This bunkering is sited right in the forest so that they will have liberty to do the illicit business. People troop from far and near to buy the product.”

A community leader, who refused to mention his name ostensibly to avoid been attacked by the syndicate involved in illegal oil refining in the area, lamented the environmental hazard caused in the communities by the illicit business.

He said, “Our community is in serious trouble. The level of environmental hazard is unbearable. Do you know that our crops are affected by this bunkering business?

“Do you know that our water now has taste as a result of this illegal bunkering? Do you know that even our cassava is affected by this activity? This is a campaign even you the media people have to help us fight. Our health, environment and means of livelihood are endangered.”

 Also, the spokesman for a vigilante group in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, Godknows Nkem, confirmed the incident to our correspondent.

The incident happened at a location between Abacheke and Abaezi communities.

READ ALSO:

Videos and pictures of the incident were already awash on the internet.

It was gathered that some of the victims were caught by the fire while they were running and trying to escape.

Unidentified burnt bodies littered the area even as family members were seen moving away the remains of their loved ones.

A community leader and President-General of the Supreme Council of Oil and Gas Producing Areas in Imo, Chief Collins Ajie, described the incident as ‘unfortunate’.

“It is unfortunate. A tragedy no one dreamt of where about 108 people got burnt beyond recognition due to illegal oil bunkering. The state and Federal Governments should step up efforts to stop this illegal bunkering because it has claimed many lives from Ohaji/Egbema and other Niger Delta areas.

“It’s shocking to see these bodies lying down here. Most of them are bread winners of their families. Most of them are young promising people, undergraduates and graduates,” he said.

The community leader noted that the Imo Government had some time ago made efforts to stop this illegal business, but it yielded no fruit.

According to him, some arrests were made, and some trucks and some boats impounded and burnt, yet it had not been able put the situation under control perhaps as a result of the involvement of high calibre individuals involved in the illegal trade.

He advised the state and Federal Governments to step up efforts at ending the illegal business.

“On our way coming, you could count about 34 checkpoints awaiting the illegal bunkerers and traders. So, If we have that figure and this illegal bunkering continued on a daily basis, then they have questions to answer,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr David Chibuike lamented that he was at the site in search of the remains of his elder sister.

“I heard the information about the incident and I had to rush down because my sister, who was married to someone in this community, was involved. I came to identify her body but couldn’t recognize her here,” he said while shedding tears.

He also called on government and security agencies to put an end to the illegal bunkering to prevent such huge loss of lives.

CP orders probe into incident

The Commissioner of Police in Imo State, Muhammed Berde, has ordered investigation into the Friday night’s fire outbreak at an illegal refinery located in a forest at Abaezi community in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of the state which claimed no fewer than 100 lives.

Speaking to our correspondent in a telephone conversation, the police spokesperson for the Command, Micheal Abattam, told our correspondent that the cause of the fire outbreak had not been ascertained.

He therefore disclosed that the CP had order an investigation for the cause of the inferno be unravelled.

PUNCH

metro

NAF bombs bandit hideouts, kills scores in Kaduna

Published

on

The Nigerian Air Force aerial assaults on terrorist camps across three Local Government Areas of Igabi, Chikun and Birnin-Gwari in Kaduna State have led to the killing of many terrorists.

The State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, was, however, silent on when the operations were carried out.

He said, “The Nigerian Air Force has continued with assaults on identified bandit camps and enclaves around Kaduna State.

READ ALSO:

“Feedback to the Kaduna State Government revealed that a camp in Riyawa, Igabi LGA, was targeted and destroyed. A terrorist location at Tofa general area of Birnin Gwari LGA was similarly engaged and struck.

“Close air support was provided to ground troops conducting operations in Maidaro, Dogon Dawa, Damari, Saulawa and Farin Ruwa areas of Birnin Gwari LGA.

“Armed reconnaissance was carried out along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road, Buruku, Kurmin Dande, Damba, Ungwan Yako, Udawa, Manini, Kuriga, Gagafada, Kushaka, Polewire and Kamfanin Doka areas spanning Chikun and Birnin Gwari LGAs. No suspicious activity was observed at the locations covered.

“Further updates will be communicated as they emerge.”

Continue Reading

metro

JUST IN: Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, wife finally part ways

Published

on

After 25 years of marriage, the popular Pentecostal pastor, Ayo Oritsejafor and his wife Helen have finally parted ways.

POLITICS NIGERIA learned that the split is caused by a protracted and bitter misunderstanding.

According to Niger Delta-based self-styled ‘Bishop of Godism’, Ufuoma Bernard, Helen in a WhatsApp message earlier in 2022 accused the estranged husband of wanting her dead.

She’s rumoured to be in a sizzling romance with a man for 10 years.

READ ALSO:

“Helen reportedly moved out of the matrimonial home and relocated to Britain with the kids and Pastor Oritsejafor has moved back to the house after abandoning it for almost a year,” Bernard said.

Oritsejafor is the founding and Senior Pastor of Word of Life Bible Church, located in Warri, Delta State.

He became the national president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) on 7 February 2005, a position he held for five years.

In July 2010, Oritsejafor was elected President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the apex body of all Christians in the country. In doing so he became the first Pentecostal leader to hold the position.

Continue Reading

Entertainment

ICPC confirms arrest, detention of D’Banj over N-Power fund fraud

Published

on

Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo, otherwise known by his stage name D’Banj

Popular Nigerian musician, Oladapo Oyebanji, also known as D’banj, has been arrested and detained in Abuja over alleged diversion of N-Power fund.
The pop star was arrested and detained Tuesday by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission.

The ICPC on Wednesday confirmed this in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua.

D’banji was accused of fraudulently diverting huge funds earmarked by the Nigerian government for N- Power project, an empowerment programme set up by the Nigerian government in 2016 to address youth unemployment and increase social development.
According to an ICPC source, D’banj was said to have colluded with some government officials to introduce ghost beneficiaries into the payroll of the scheme.

The money meant for those beneficiaries was then paid to accounts that have now been allegedly linked to the pop star.

D’banj was reported to have dodged summons by the ICPC for weeks, claiming to be overseas for scheduled concerts for interrogation over fraud allegation before the commission’s operatives closed in on him.

On arrival at the ICPC office, D’banj was reportedly subjected to a prolonged interrogation session after which he was detained.

His plea for administrative bail was reportedly rejected by officials who said the musician could not be trusted to attend his trial if released on bail.

The statement issued read in part, “The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) confirmed on Wednesday the arrest and detention of Mr. Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo, otherwise known by his stage name D’Banj, over the investigation of fraud associated with the N-Power Programme.

“The N-Power is a scheme established by President Muhammadu Buhari on 8th June, 2016, to address the issues of youth unemployment and empowerment, and help increase social development.

“In line with its mandate, the Commission had received numerous petitions on the diversion of N-Power funds running into billions of naira following the approval and release of such funds to the beneficiaries by the Federal Government. Many N-Power beneficiaries had complained over the non-receipt of the monthly funds in spite of payment by the Government.

READ ALSO:

“About 10 persons have been invited by the ICPC over the last few months in connection with the N-Power fraud, and have been granted administrative bail after their detention. Several invitations to Mr. Oladipo Daniel Oyebanjo, to appear before a team of investigators were ignored and not honoured.

“D’banji turned himself in and was taken into custody at the ICPC headquarters, Abuja, on Tuesday, December 6, 2022, and is currently assisting the investigators to unravel the circumstances of the fraud allegations by the petitioners.

“The investigation will be all-encompassing and also be extended to other collaborators of the fraud and the banks where the beneficiaries’ accounts are domiciled.

“This press release has become necessary to set the record straight in view of the reports awash in the media. The investigation is ongoing and the Commission prefers not to preempt its outcome and also avoid the frenzy of a media trial.”

Continue Reading

Trending