Illegal refinery explosion: Lawmaker calls for legalization of artisanal refineries

A House of Rep member has called on the Federal Government to legalise and integrate artisanal refineries.

The call was made by Rep. Kingsley Uju-Chima (APC–Imo) on Sunday, following a visit to the scene of an illegal refinery at Abaezi forest in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State that exploded killing about a hundred people.

Uju-Chima stated that lawmakers will try to see from the legislative sector whether it can have depots and artisanal refineries to put a permanent stop to the menace.

What the Rep member is saying

Rep Uju-Chima said, “It is a national disaster which has put the entire community, local government area and constituency into a mourning mood. No amount of words will compensate for the situation I have seen here today.

We have had a lot of bills and motions at the National Assembly in the past and I have seen reason why we should take this more serious. I have seen reason why as Nigerians and people of oil producing areas, we should have collaborative efforts to curb this menace of oil bunkering.

“Sometime ago, I proposed artisanal refinery as a possible permanent solution to this menace.

“I know in the western world, they have grade A, grade B and grade C fuel, so if  this illegal business could continue unabated despite security agents within this place, then we will try to see from the legislative sector whether we can have depots and artisanal refineries to put permanent stop to this menace.

He urged for a round table discussion among oil companies, community and religious leaders, youths and other stakeholders on the way forward.

We must as a matter of urgency evacuate these corpses, so that the people alive will not be affected by the health hazard these decomposing bodies poses..

“I am really pained and do not know why our people should be killed in this form because this is not our traditional means of livelihood. We have always survived through farming and fishing,” he added.

He urged that with the adequate empowerment and encouragement in genuine oil and gas businesses and MSMEs, no youth will want to live in the bush for survival.

What you should know

  • Nairametrics reported that no fewer than 100 people were burnt to death on Friday night after an illegal refinery exploded at Abaezi forest in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered Nigeria’s security and intelligence agencies to intensify the clampdown on illegal refineries across the country to safeguard the lives of citizens. The order came  barely 24 hours after the reported burning to death of over 100 people after an illegal refinery at the above-mentioned community exploded with several other people sustaining severe injuries.
  • The president in his reaction described the tragic incident as a catastrophe and national disaster, saying that the 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.”

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