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Illegal bunkering fire : Imo govt. commiserates with families of victims

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Illegal bunkering fire : Imo govt. commiserates with families of victims

The Imo Government has commiserated with families of  victims of the fire outbreak that killed over 100 people at an illegal oil bunkering site in the state on Friday night.

In a phone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Owerri, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Declan Emelumba described the incident as a “sad development”.

VMT NEWS reports that the fire incident occurred at an illegal oil bunkering site located between Abacheke and Abezi boundary communities in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of the state.

“The government commiserates with  families of the deceased. It is a pity that they died as a result of illegal oil bunkering.

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“The government is concerned with anything that affects lives. And even while it is condemning illegal oil bunkering and forcing people to see the dangers in doing that activity,” he said.

According to him, government is doing everything to stop illegal bunkering.

“That was why just two weeks ago or so, the government set up an anti-oil bunkering committee headed by the Commissioner for Petroleum,  to take all necessary measures to stamp out illegal bunkering.

“Anybody telling you that government is not doing anything is not true. These are illegal things done secretly, so it will take time to stop all these things,” Emelumba added.

Also reacting, the state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Mr Goodluck Opiah, said the issue of illegal oil bunkering was a public knowledge in Imo and the Niger Delta which sabotaged the economy.

Opiah, who hailed  from the Abacheke community where many illegal oil bunkering existed and the fire incident took place, said : “we are worried on our part as government.

“The government had set up anti-oil bunkering committee as one of the steps in that direction and we are directly working with the Army to destroy illegal oil bunkering sites.

“It is a sabotage to the economy and criminal, but we shall continue to carry out advocacy campaigns and strict measures to stamp out such illegal activities,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, the Police Command in the state said it had commenced investigations to unravel the circumstances that led to the incident.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Mike Abattam, who spoke to NAN on the development, also refuted media reports that the incident was an explosion, but rather a fire outbreak.

“The incident is not an explosion. It is a fire outbreak that involved a lot of people who died in an illegal oil bunkering site.

“We cannot estimate the number of people that died now. It is still under investigation, but a lot of people lost their lives,” Abattam said.

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