Fire Kills Over 20 Persons At Illegal Refinery In Ahoada-West
It is barely a week when a fire out break roasted to death no fewer than 20 persons, several others burnt at an illegal refinery, yet another fire incident has hit the same point at Egbeh Community in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The first fire out break rocked the illegal refinery last Tuesday at about 11:30, pm, killing many youths of the surrounding communities, such as Ula-Ubie, Egbeh, Ogoda, Oyigba, among others.
Narrating the story, an insider said hoodlums dressed in army uniform repeatedly stormed the business area, extorting money from the operators of the local refinery.
The source said that when the extortion became unbearable to the oil distillers, popularly called “Kpo-fire” in the area, the managers decided to fight to the finish. One of them threw up the fire that did not only ravage the refinery but also the many buyers, labourers, and managers of the illegal refinery.
The Tide gathered that while many corpses were burnt beyond recognition, some died in fish ponds and bushes as they scampered for safety when the fire broke out. But others, who died while receiving treatment at traditional herbal homes in Allwell David, Egwele Otuyah, Unwozhinim Godwin, Goodnews Alabo, and Okpoh Chacha.
Meanwhile, Ebiga Agi, Bright Alabo, Doctor Otuyah, Amadi Amanukpo, Julius Okiti and others sustained high degree of injury and were receiving treatment at herbal homes.
Our correspondent reports that three persons who resumed operation at about 10:25pm on Wednesday came out unhurt when the fire re-occurred.
Community sources disclosed that fear arising from recent fire incident which claimed many lives has gripped the youths of the area, who are now on sudden vacation.
However, recall that army had razed houses belonging to Messres Nwachukwu Otuyah and Obigiri Otuyah and also a car suspected to be storing and carrying the illegal product recently at the community, an action which forced the residents to flee home.
When contacted the Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, said he was not aware of such incident.
By: Agimo, Emenike Benson
Monarch Tasks Newly Government Recognized Traditional Rulers On Peace, Integrity
The Eze Oha Evo III, His Majesty, King Leslie Nyebuchi Eke, Eze Gbakagbaka, has called on the newly recognised Traditional Rulers by the Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike-led administration to ensure that they use their offices to support the peace initiative in the state as created by the Governor.
Eze Eke made the appeal while addressing newsmen in his palace in Woji in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area during the week.
He said as paramount rulers, their major stake was to maintain peace and integrity and not a double standard life.
According to him, Governor Nyesom Wike’s plans to have a peaceful state should be complemented at various levels including the traditional institutions.
The Evo King noted that if all communities in the state are peaceful, the state at large will live harmoniously.
He expressed hope that the upgrade/classification of additional traditional stools across the state was a pointer to the fact that Governor Wike has every sector at heart.
“I hail and thank His Excellency, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Mr. Quality Projects, Life Bencher, for the classification/upgrade of traditional stools across the state. Indeed, the Governor is doing well”, he said.
He also called on his new colleagues to see the opportunity as a call to duty wherein, the people’s challenges will supercede their personal interest.
He sued for uprightness among the traditional rulers and their immediate communities, saying that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”.
He prayed that God Almighty would continue to bless and keep them in good health and sound mind as they have attained another height of greatness in life.
The Tide learnt that the Governor’s action was from the strength of Section 13, Subsection 1 of the Rivers State Traditional Rulers Law No. 4 of 2015.
By: King Onunwor
Stakeholders Task Govt On Special Fund For Host Communities
Some stakeholders in the Niger Delta are calling on governments in the region to set aside special percentages from the 13percent derivation fund for the development of oil producing communities.
This was part of a resolution at a town hall meeting organised by Connect Development (CODE), a non- governmental organisation in Port Harcourt.
The stakeholders who were drawn from Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River States, particularly lamented general backwardness of host communities in the region.
They urged the government to set aside certain percentages for the host communities.
Speaking with newsmen, the Akwa Ibom State lead coordinator, Ubong Ekpe, said oil producing communities should not be denied of their fair share of development.
Ekpe said the implementation of the 13 percent derivation which has brought in trillions of Naira has not had any positive impact on the host communities.
He said the town hall meeting was to dialogue with major stakeholders, including host communities, with a view to ensuring that host communities benefit from natural resources from their Land.
Ekpe noted host communities, particularly in Akwa Ibom State, are yet to feel the impact of their resources.
Also speaking, the Cross River State Coordinator, Connecting Development (CODE), Effang Etim, said the meeting will share ideas between the organisation and community leaders , civil societies and government officials to create an action plan.
He said investigation revealed that most host communities in the region are not benefitting from resources being exploited from their areas.
“We had a survey across the State on host communities in which we made some findings that we’ll share to government personnel to enable them see what people in the communities are going through”, he said.
According to him, most host communities lack the basic necessities of life such as health centres, schools water and others.
A cross section of other participants who spoke were unanimous that host communities deserve better living conditions.
By: John Bibor
Community Laments Neglect Despite Hosting 48 Oil Wells
Resident of Joinkrama community in Ahoada West Council of Rivers State have expressed worries over the level of environmental degradation, poverty, and neglect in the area, despite having 48 oil wells, operated by multinational companies.
The community plays host to Adibawa Oilfield, operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited. The community is ravaged by poverty, environmental degradation and neglect, with inaccessible roads, cut off by flood and erosion.
Some residents, who spoke with The Tide source during Community Diagnostic Dialogue on the issues of oil pollution, organised by Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), lamented that Orashi River, which serves as their major source of water, is highly polluted with crude.
A member of the community, Azaga Ovie-Oniso Kelvin, said: “Our rivers are highly polluted and the river crosses from one community to another. The roofing sheets are all brownish. What we want is the oil company operating here to mitigate the effects of their operations in the community.
“We have written letters to Shell, Agip and others, including their local contractors but unfortunately, they do not listen. They only listen to violence and because we are peaceful people, they keep taking us for granted,” he said.
Another resident, Mrs. Avigien Ubileoniso Goodwill, said poverty is clearly written on the faces of Joinkrama residents.
“The 2022 flood really dealt with us, our crops were all destroyed and we all were rendered homeless. The oil companies are not helping matters, even the access road is completely broken.
“The oil company should repair our only access road because the road is very important. Our graduates have been reduced to peasant farmers because there is no employment. There are no benefits at all from the oil company, we are still drinking from Orashi River.”
Environmentalist and Director of HOMEF, Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, described Joinkrama as a geographical laboratory for the study of environmental problems, ranging from flood, gas flaring and oil spills.
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