Nigeria: Tragedy Strikes as Illegal Refinery Explosion Claims 25 Lives in Rivers
By Zuleihat Owuiye, Mamos Nigeria
In a devastating incident that has left a community in mourning, at least 25 individuals lost their lives in an explosion at an illegal oil tapping point in Omoku, Ogba/Egebema/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State. The tragedy occurred on Sunday morning when a group of youths reportedly broke a pipeline belonging to a multinational oil firm operating in the area, leading to a catastrophic explosion while they were attempting to siphon fuel using jerrycans and buckets.
An anonymous source revealed that while 25 people were feared dead, many others sustained severe burns and were currently receiving treatment in various hospitals within the locality. The source expressed deep sorrow, stating, “It is a very terrible incident. Imagine the death of 25 people in such a time. We learned some youths burst a company pipeline. If you go to the General Hospital and other private clinics in Omoku, you will see many of the injured people scattered all over the place in both government and private hospitals seeking treatment.”
Another source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that the explosion occurred when suspected oil thieves tried to ignite mosquito coils near the leaking pipeline. The source added that the pipeline in question was outdated and belonged to one of the oil companies operating in the area.
Emeka Ukwuosah, the chairman of the Niger Delta Youth Movement in the ONELGA chapter, urged the local youth to engage in lawful activities and refrain from participating in illegal oil bunkering. He also called on the security agencies to intensify their efforts in curbing such activities and emphasized the need for the multinational oil companies to upgrade their aging facilities to prevent future incidents.
Emeka Agbabere, the Assistant Secretary of the Onelga Security Peace Advisory Council, attributed the tragedy to illegal oil bunkering. He revealed that the vigilante group, along with the Community Development Committee and the youth, had been instructed by a local monarch to put an end to illegal oil bunkering activities in the area. Agbabere expressed disappointment that despite their repeated campaigns, the youth did not heed their warnings.
The spokesperson for the Rivers State Police Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, stated that she would gather more information on the incident and provide a response. However, as of the time of filing this report, she had not yet done so.
The community of Omoku is devastated by the loss of 25 lives in the illegal refinery explosion. The incident serves as a tragic reminder of the dangers associated with illegal oil tapping and the need for stricter measures to prevent such incidents in the future. It is essential for the authorities, oil companies, and community leaders to work together to address the issue of illegal bunkering and ensure the safety and well-being of the people living in the region.