Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Sequel to the Crude Oil explosion that killed at least 12 persons in the Rumuekpe Community the Chairman of the Emohua local government area, Dr Chidi Lloyd has accused International Oil Companies (IOCs) and Security Agencies of aiding oil theft in the area.
Lloyd described the collaboration between the officials of IOCs and security operatives as a deliberate attempt to sabotage the fight against illegal oil bunkering activities otherwise referred to as Kpofire in the area.
The Council chairman made the accusation when he visited the scene of a fire outbreak occasioned by illegal oil bunkering activities in the Rumuekpe community, Emohua LGA on Friday.
The fire outbreak claimed the lives of yet to be established several persons,(the Police confirmed 12 persons) who were allegedly scooping petroleum products from a pipeline along the Ovelle-Nvakaohia section of the Rumuekpe community in Emohua Local Government Area.
The incident occurred at the early hours of Friday, leaving about five vehicles and three tricycles suspected to be used for the transportation of the criminally scooped petroleum products completely burnt.
According to Lloyd, “It’s unfortunate that IOCs and security personnel are also involved in this. If they were not involved tell me how those who scoop this product manage to transport them out of here, considering the number of security checkpoints around here.
“There is an army formation very close to the scene of this fire outbreak, would they say that they don’t know that criminals are scooping Petroleum products here?
“These days security personnel lobby to be posted to places like this so that they collaborate with the perpetrators, everybody wants to be posted here to come and collect money.
“If officials of the oil companies are not involved, how do the criminals know when there is pressure in the pipeline?
“You can see that a very strong cabal is benefiting from this, not those roasting in the fire here. Top officials of the oil companies release information on when there’s pressure in the pipe.”
The Emohua local government Chairman who commiserated with the families of the victims of the fire outbreak urged relevant organs of the Rumuekpe community to activate the necessary machinery in the community to establish the number of the victims whole are indigenes of the community.
He, however, frowned at the resurgence of illegal oil bunkering activities in parts of the local government area after a resultful advocacy and enforcement exercise carried out in the area by his administration. The fight against criminality is in line with the directive of the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike who has been at the forefront of the fight against oil theft and illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria.
“Today my people have died as a result of this but when you try to stop them, they say there’s hunger in the land. Then I ask, do you need to dig a hole to cover another hole?”.
“We commiserate with the families of the victims and pray that the souls of those who died in the inferno rest in peace but it’s unfortunate that after all, we did to stop this menace; after all the advocacy to make our people understand the danger associated with this activity some still went back to it.
“Remember I put my life on the line because of the fight against this menace; you all know the effort I put to stop this, but today it is even worse in Ndele and Ibaa.
“In line with the directive of Governor Nyesom Wike the chairmen of the 23 LGAs in Rivers State did everything possible to stop this menace but we were never encouraged by the federal government.
“The federal government need to be sincere, you don’t come here and go straight to communities to do a roadshow without synergizing with the local government councils who understand the area very well.
“The Minister of Petroleum and the Chief of Army Staff visited some communities, clamped down on a few perpetrators and went back to Abuja without a proper synergy with the state and local governments.
“Today the boys are back and I hear they’re even more technical now. So, Mr Minister and the Army Chief have to come back and do the right thing because there’s a limit to what the local government can do because petroleum is on the exclusive list but with a proper synergy we can end this.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission says it has commenced investigations into the pipeline explosion that killed 12 people yesterday at Rumuekpe community in Emohua LGA of Rivers State.
In a statement, the Chief Executive of the commission, Gbenga Komolafe, said the incident had been reported to the regulatory agency and will provide updates appropriately.