Oil Bunkering: Army Bursts 13 Illegal Refineries, Arrests 24 Suspects

Massive pipeline explosions in Rumuekpe, Emohua local council, Rivers State, is said to have killed 20 people.

This is despite the fact that two people perished and numerous others were seriously injured in a horrifying motor accident that occurred in the early hours of yesterday at the Rumuji axis of the East-West route in the state’s Emohua local council.

Some others were also slain last month in Rivers State as a result of illicit bunkering activities.

The most recent incidence, it was learned, happened last Thursday when community kids were siphoning petroleum products from various pipelines positioned along the section of the adjournment.

A resident of the community, Mike Ndele, said the area was prone to oil bunkering activities, disclosing that the pipeline exploded when the bunkerers attempted to cut off one of the pipeline heads. He said that about 20 persons died in the incident.

He said: “I can confirm to you that more than 20 persons died in that very incident. The particular place where this incident occurred is very notorious for bunkering activities.

“Youths from various communities gathered there to carry out criminal activities of cutting oil pipes. The place is the centre of oil bunkering activities. There are so many petrol and gas pipelines that crisscross the community. Some multinational oil companies own the pipelines.

“NLNG also has their gas pipeline along the stretch of the community. Those involved in this criminal activity may have ruptured a petrol pipeline, which ignited fire and burnt to death so many persons.

“This incident may have affected many families from the neighbouring communities as many youths involved in this nefarious activity comes from different communities.”

Another Rumuekpe resident, who only gave his first name as Amadi, said he witnessed five bodies that had been burned beyond recognition.

SP Nnamdi Omoni, the Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for the Rivers State Police Command, confirmed the event when reached.

He did say, however, that he had not yet determined the number of deaths, and that a force from the State Police Command had been dispatched to the region to ensure peace and order.

Kachy Robinson, an eyewitness at the scene of the tragedy on East-West Road, told The Guardian that two commercial buses coming from opposing directions collided head-on, killing two people and injuring several others.

“There is an accident along this East-West road at Rumuji after the police stations. So far, two people have been confirmed dead and many others persons wounded,” he said.

Accidents had been a recurrent occurrence, according to Robinson, at that axis of the road. He blamed the sad development on a ‘permanent’ blockade erected by the police in the area, stating that commuters had been compelled to use only one lane since officers from the Rumuji Police Division stopped one side of the road as a means to reduce crime in the state.

Because he had not responded to calls and text messages addressed to him at the time of filing this complaint, the state PPRO was unable to confirm the incident.


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