Rivers State Government has opened investigations into the causes of fire outbreaks in the state following the razing of the Bonny Jetty Port Harcourt, last Monday, the third incident in 72hours.
The state Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka Onowu, who disclosed this to newsmen after inspection of the areas affected by fire in Port Harcourt, said Governor Nyesom Wike has directed that a panel of inquiry be inaugurated to probe the three fire incidents.
This is as the Federal Fire Service has fought 26 fire incidents (excluding Monday’s fire at Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty) in Port Harcourt and its environs from September to date with the loss of properties worth billions of naira.
It would be recalled that on Monday morning, there was fire outbreak at the newly commissioned Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty in Port Harcourt.
Sources alleged that the inferno started around 10:35am following a spark in one of the boats carrying drums of illegally refined fuel (Kpofire) around the jetty.
This happened barely 24hours after Zenith Bank building in Port Harcourt was razed on Sunday.
Earlier, fire had also razed parts of the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) in Isiokpo Street, D-Line, on Saturday and a building along the Rumuagholu/Rumuokoro axis, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state.
He warned that properties and land used by illegal bunkerers to store inflammable materials responsible for fire at D-Line and Rumuokoro may be confiscated if owners fail to appear.
Onowu blamed residents who conceal activities of bunkerers in their neighbourhood as accomplices, wondering why they should not report people who store petroleum products in their compounds.
He said investigations have commenced on the fire incidents, and warned residents to desist from storing petroleum and inflammable materials in their place of abode, as he reminded them that the dry season was near and can worsen the situation.
Speaking, the state Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr. Peter Meede, disclosed that investigations into the incidents would unravel the actual causes.
According to him, a full-scale investigation would not only reveal the causes of the fire, but would also provide a remedy to it.
He said, “There is the likelihood that it is petroleum products that are causing the fire. We cannot come to that conclusion now until there is a full-scale investigation. The report of the investigation will reveal the cause of fire as well as the remedy to it.
“If you watch, where the dealers of these products (black market fuel peddlers) keep them are places that are hidden. Like the fire incident that occurred in D-Line on Saturday night, that was a company premises; although the company is not in operation.
“Because the company is not in operation, it is absolutely difficult for somebody to know the kind of activity that is going on there. That is why we are calling on law-abiding citizens to be very vigilant in their neighbourhoods. See what they can do, watch what is happening in their neighbourhood and report to the government.
“The Rivers State Government has been able to set up two dedicated telephone lines for people to report unwholesome practices in the state. We have warned severally that when you see and you don’t report, when it happens, it is your own property that would be destroyed; it is your own life that will be lost.
“So, it is important for people to understand that it is patriotic for people to report these unwholesome activities. That is exactly the remedy to this situation”, he added.
Also speaking on the Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty fire, the Commander of the Federal Fire Service in Rivers State, DCF Abdullahi Audu Alfa said hoodlums had accused them of not responding in time to the fire incident, and added that for the safety of their lives and equipment, the fire-fighters had to turn back.
Alfa condemned the action of the members of the public, saying that efforts must be made to sensitise residents on how to respond to emergencies.
He also said that most times, they get the information about fire outbreaks late after individual efforts had failed.
Alfa said the problem of poor network of roads leading to the scenes of fire outbreaks and poor attitude of motorists who do not give the fire-fighters easy right of way at the time of emergency were also part of the causes of the delays in their arrival at the scene of incidents.
He added that the Federal Fire Service has fought 26 fire incidents (excluding today’s fire) in Port Harcourt and its environs from September to date with the loss of properties worth billions of naira.
Alfa added that his findings and experience show that most fire outbreaks in the state were caused by activities of illegal artisanal refiners and improper storage of petroleum products.
Reacting, the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, Barrister George Ariolu said that the Rumuokoro fire incident was caused by illegal trading and improper storage of petroleum products.
Ariolu, who said this during his visit to the scene of the fire disaster, lamented that members of the Community Development Committee (CDC), chairman of youth group and other stakeholders may be aware of the illegal dangerous business without reporting to either the local government or the state government.
“Fire incident don’t just happen, they’re caused by human activities, whether legal or illegal.
“If you go back to the point it started, you will see that this is a clear incident of illegal oil bunkering, that is what is there and that is the cause of the fire, which is condemnable.
“These are unpatriotic citizens of this nation; that is what we have discovered here”.
Community Development Chairman of Belema Community at Nembe-Bille Waterfront where another fire incident was recorded on Monday in Old Port Harcourt Township, Gospel Nengiye urged for the building of a fire station at Nembe-Bille Waterfront.
He spoke to newsmen following the fire that gutted about seven boats as a result of a faulty outboard motor engine that went into flames at the jetty.
Nengiye said the fire sparked by the faulty outboard motor engine entered spread to other boats as it was difficult to contain the conflagration.
There are claims that a woman and her baby lost their lives, but many properties and market wares consisting of fish, and consumables were gutted by the fire on Monday.
Earlier, fire-fighters had escaped mob action as a huge explosion at the newly commissioned Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty built by Rivers State Government in the outskirts of Port Harcourt metropolis resulted into a heavy fire outbreak early Monday.
An eyewitness said that, at least, two persons with serious cases of burn injuries were rushed to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), for treatment as a result of the incident.
According to him, the environs of the Bonny-Bille-Nembe Jetty has been turned into a hotbed of illegal refining of petroleum products, popularly known as “Kponfire”, fuel causing massive pollution across Port Harcourt and its environs.
Another eyewitness claimed that the explosion occurred when a boat driver tried to kick-start his engine.
He said this resulted in a huge fire that quickly spread to other boats aided by petroleum products in the environment, alleging that four persons died as a result.
“However, fire-fighters from the Federal Fire Service narrowly escaped mob action after they arrived at the scene of the fire outbreak,” he added.
Meanwhile, hoodlums quickly took advantage of the fire incident to loot fish, crayfish and other food items from the jetty.
But it took the arrival of Naval personnel to restore normalcy to the tensed area.
All the fire outbreaks have been attributed to illegal refining or distribution of petroleum products, popularly called “Kponfire”.
By: Kevin Nengia &
Buhari Seeks Return To Family Values In Rebuilding Nigeria …Wike, Tambuwal, Other Govs Attend Ikpeazu’s Son’s Wedding
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the reason why there were so many problems in the Nigerian society was because of a diminishing emphasis placed on the importance of family values.
Buhari said this, yesterday, at the wedding of Mr. Jachimike Ikpeazu, son of Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu at the International Conference Centre in Umuahia, Abia State.
At the event, the groom wedded his heartbeat, Miss Thelma Chidinma.
The wedding was also attended by the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, Sokoto State Governor, Hon. Aminu Tanbuwal, and several other dignitaries.
Others present at the wedding service that was conducted by the Seventh Day Adventist Church were Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri; Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed; Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi; and Enugu State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Also at the event were the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; and National Secretary-elect of the Peoples Democratic Party, Senator Sam Anyanwu.
Buhari, who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uche Ogah, decried the situation where parents and guardians who should have paid greater attention in inculcating good character in their wards, have abdicated that responsibility.
He sued for a collective effort across tribes and regions towards restoring family values and giving it its rightful place.
“Marriage is family value, character. The reasons why there are issues in the society, today, is because families are broken. When values are enshrined in families, the entire society will be good.”
Buhari charged the couple to build their family on the word of God, have a regular family altar of prayers, and give good attention to building enduring character.
Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who was represented by wife of the Ebonyi State Governor, Mrs. Rachael Umahi, told the couple to know that marriage is where love is celebrated.
She urged them to continue in the training given to them by their parents, and learn to love themselves more so that their home can be a blessing and impact positively on others around them.
In his sermon, Pastor B. E. O. Udoh, admonished the couple not to allow their love for each other to diminish.
He further urged them to be tolerant, support each other to become their best, build and cultivate goodly character.
In his remarks, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu said it was delightful to watch his son take a wife to himself, and prayed God to make their union fruitful.
Ikpeazu expressed gratitude to Buhari and his wife, his brother governors, political associates and friends who attended the event, for honouring him with their presence.
Insurgents Planning To Attack Military Bases, DSS Alerts
The Department of State Services (DSS) has issued an alert over planned attacks by insurgents on Ogun border communities and other border communities in Nigeria.
In a letter signed by the State Director of Security, Ogun State Command, M.B. Abdullahi, DSS warned that it has intelligence that the insurgents were plotting to attack military bases in border towns.
The DSS also advised customs and other security agencies in the country to put counter-measures in place to frustrate the plot by the insurgents.
The letter titled, ‘Plans by insurgents to launch attacks on military bases in various border communities’ read, “Available intelligence indicates plans by insurgents and criminal elements to carry out simultaneous attacks on military posts and bases in various border communities across the nation anytime from now.
“In view of the foregoing and the likelihood such attacks not limited to the military personnel only, all law enforcement and security agencies with operational bases at border communities are advised to take note of the above threat and emplace countermeasures with emphasis on personal security of operatives to frustrate the planned attack.”
PAP Partners NNPC To Sustain Peace In N’Delta
Towards attaining sustainable peace in the Niger Delta region, the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have agreed to work together to tackle pipeline insecurity, unemployment and other challenges in the region.
The agreement was reached when PAP’s Interim Administrator, Col. Milland Dixon Dikio (rtd) led a delegation to visit the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, in Abuja, over the weekend.
In a statement signed by the Special Adviser on Media to the Acting Administrator, Mr Neotaobase Egbe, PAP said the meeting was strategic and in line with the objective of programme to partner with all relevant stakeholders for the full implementation of the amnesty programme.
He said PAP was courting willing partners to have robust synergy to drive the Niger Delta Recovery Plan (NDRP) to fruition.
The statement noted that though PAP was executing its own role in reintegrating 30,000 ex-agitators captured by the Presidency, there was a need to strengthen partnership between sister agencies of government for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta.
He said the NNPC like other institutions of government had roles to play in oil assets redistribution, infrastructural development and environmental remediation.
Dikio said that there was a need to control disruptions in oil production, saying destructive energies could be channelled into productive ventures through re-orientation and sustained advocacy.
He also said that PAP had made efforts to cut down irrelevant trainings and had become intentional about successfully empowering its delegates.
He said trainings over the years had become contractor-driven and were not meeting the beneficiaries’ needs.
Dikio maintained that the PAP was targeting functional businesses that had the capacity to train, employ and mentor delegates into becoming successful business owners.
He said: “For instance, if we have someone that has a commercial poultry farm and we partner with them to train our delegates, they will be employed after their training. In the course of two years and five months they will be taken through the ropes of poultry farming before they are sent out to start their own poultry.
“It is a win-win for everybody. We did the research and we discovered that the cassava plant in Bayelsa needs about 20,000 metric tons of cassava daily, so there is ample opportunity for our delegates to go into that kind of business.
“Again, palm oil when sold in international markets is above $1,000 a ton, and here, we are in the region only focusing on oil and gas”.
Dikio further said there were arrays of businesses the PAP was looking to inject delegates into, adding that exceptional graduates under the PAP scholarship scheme had more opportunities for employment.
In his remarks, the NNPC GMD, Mele Kyari, commended Dikio for the efforts to ensure peace in the Niger Delta, and emphasised the need to sustain the peace through accommodation and inclusiveness of Niger Delta youths.
He bemoaned the inability of the oil industry to fulfil its obligations to the region over the years, saying that it was one of the reasons the amnesty programme had prolonged.
He said: “As we speak today, we have seen a number of increasing incidents of unrest; cases that remind us of the past we don’t want to recollect again.
“Therefore, everything you have said points to the fact that inclusion, support and empowerment for young people particularly in the Niger Delta will bring peace and development to the Niger Delta. No amount of resources available to you will give you peace except there is alignment with the respective players in the space”.
Kyari said the award of licences to investors to begin production on about 57 marginal oil fields within Niger Delta in 2022 was designed to support businesses that originated from the region because most of the beneficiaries from the marginal field programme were indigenes of the Niger Delta.
He said working together would bring lasting peace to the region, explaining that the number of experienced technical people produced from the programme, would easily fill employment opportunities.
He said: “Once you create opportunities and investments return, more employment opportunities will come. I think it is a good thing that we work together, both the amnesty programme and all other actors in this space to bring the lasting peace to the Niger Delta and across our country, where people can benefit because ultimately if we cannot give, there will be nothing to show in another five to ten years, that is the reality that we are in.”
By: Akujobi Amadi
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