The Rivers State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Basil Igwebueze has confirmed a pregnant woman, the son of the illegal refinery owner and an about-to-wed lady were among victims of fire that engulfed an illegal refinery at Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
Basil said: “The fire outbreak started at a very late hour hence 18 victims were burnt beyond recognition while 25 injured persons were rescued.
From our preliminary findings it was gathered that the inferno was caused by a local refinery cooking pot constructed close to an oil reservoir which contained combustible materials.
“The burning temperature eventually became too high and the environment gutted fire. We also gathered that the cooking pot belong to one Mr John Bodo who sustained severe fire injuries while his son, Uche John Bodo a fresh graduate died on the spot.
“It is also lamentable to relay that most of the victim were youths; then a pregnant woman and a young lady getting ready for her marriage ceremony next month were all casualties”.
Basil condemned the activities of economic saboteurs engaging in Vandalism of oil pipelines and operations of local refineries in the State.
He decried the unrepentant nature of those dealing illegally in petroleum products through construction and operation of local refineries.
He said he he command had made meaningful efforts by destroying a good number of illegal oil bunkering sites and oil dumps across the state.
He said: “In collaborations with sister security agencies we have identified through sustained intelligence certain areas where local refineries were constructed and such illegal sites have been taken over by our Antivandal Squad to prevent further operations by perpetrators.
“it is, however, disheartening that the more we dismantle these illegal refineries the more people engaged in such unscrupulous activities. Recall that the Command antivandal Squad recently took over and dismantle a local refinery under construction at Umuechem in Etche Local Government.
“Thus, the fire disaster which occured in Ibaa community is highly condemnable and uncalled for; there is need for conscious effort and stronger collaborations with the traditional institutions, community youths, religious leaders amongst others to fight against oil bunkering activities in our various communities and this begins with giving credible Intelligence and information to the NSCDC who remains the lead agency in the fight against vandalism of oil pipelines and protection of critical national assets and Infrastructures in Rivers State”.
While condoling with the affected families; the NSCDC Rivers State Commandant warned those operating local refineries in some communities across the State.