The Imo state government on Friday said that it had activated mechanisms to end illegal refining in oil-bearing communities in the state.
The state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, who spoke on the aftermath of last Friday night’s explosion at a forest in Abaezi community in the Ohaji Egbema Local Government Area of the state, which claimed no fewer than 100 lives, said the government was committed to ending oil theft in the state.
Opiah, a former Speaker of the state House of Assembly and ex-member, House of the Representatives, said that illegal oil business was affecting the economy of the state.
He said Governor Hope Uzodimma had ordered a clampdown on all illegal refineries in the state.
Commiserating with the families of the victims, Opiah prayed for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives in the explosion, describing the incident as unfortunate.
The commissioner said the order to arrest the owner of the illegal refinery, Okenze Onyenwoke, which claimed the multiple lives, remained valid.
He said that the state government would no longer treat those who engaged in an illegal oil refinery with kid-glove, promising that no matter how stubborn the challenge of illegal oil business was, it remained surmountable.
He called on the people to collaborate with the Government in the fight against the menace.
“In as much as the challenges always encountered in the fight against illegal oil bunkering are stubborn, they are also very much surmountable.
“In other words, illegal oil bunkering can be effectively stopped. But then, this can only be achieved through strong commitment and collaboration between the people and government,” he said.
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