The Imo State Government has declared wanted one Mr. Okenze Onyewoke, owner of the illegal crude oil refining site at Abaezi forest, in Ohaji-Egbema council area of the state where over 100 persons feared dead at the wee hours of Friday when the fire engulfed the area.
The state governor, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, represented by the state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, disclosed this when he visited the scene shortly after the infermo.
Uzodimma who expressed shock over the incidence, condemned the illegal activity leading to the deaths and cautioned the citizens against engaging in illegal acts.
The Prime Business Africa gathered that about one hundred and fifty others sustained serious degrees of burns from the ugly incident while about six vehicles were destroyed. Uzodimma said, “at the moment, we can’t really confirm the number of the deceased because many family members have removed the corpses of so many of them.” “Apart from this calamity, the act has destroyed the acqatic life of the community. Our people before now are predorminantly farmers and fishermen.
“Look around, you’ll find smokes coming from this illegal act. If this is not enough for any person to stop, I think the community is heading for what I can’t describe. He continued, “most of the people who are engaging in this act are from Rivers, Bayelsa and other neigbouring States and it is sabotage for our people to allow this illegal act to continue. “I wish to appeal to our youths to desist from making themselves available for this illegal act. This is a sucidal business they got themselves into.
“On behalf of Imo State Government, we condole with the berieved family. Imo State Government pray God gives the family of those who lost their lives the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”
Speaking to newsmen, an eyewitness, one Mr Eze Ikedi said, “around 11 pm last night, the residents of the area woke up to see the huge flame on the Abaezi forest. “People were also scared going close the place but later when people got there, they found out it was over hundred persons that were burnt and one hundred and fifty others who sustained serious burns were rushed into the villages for treatment.”
“The fire covered the whole bush. We saw the people that were inside, many people were trapped inside the fire. Some who managed to come outside later died because many of them were even rejected by the village health center when we rushed them there.”