The Nigerian Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) on Monday called on President Muhammadu Buhari and Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma to stop being hypocritical about the recent inferno that engulfed an illegal refinery site, killing over 100 people involved in crude oil bunkering.
This was contained in a statement issued by the HURIWA National Coodinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko.
HURIWA urged Buhari and Uzodinma to hold themselves and the governments they lead as heads of the Executive arms accountable.
the group said the governments at both levels abysmally failed the people by not proactively uncovering the illegal crude oil bunkering site or covering up the criminal enterprise, instead opting for ‘channel noise’ since the illegality’s venue in Imo State was engulfed by fire.
In the early hours of Sunday, a fire burned an illicit crude oil processing complex at Abaezi woodland, in the Ohaji-Egbema council area of Imo State, killing at least 100 people and injuring about 150 others.
Uzodimma, who was accompanied by the state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Opiah, expressed horror at the situation and criticised the illegal activities that led to the deaths during a visit to the area.
HURIWA, which criticised the hoodlums’ crude oil bunkering activities, said the Federal Government and the Imo State Government were responsible for the gruesome occurrence for failing to carry out their statutory duty of protecting citizens’ lives and property.
HURIWA stated that the Imo State Government was unable to obtain actionable intelligence on the illegal bunkering operations in order to deploy the necessary law enforcement tools in partnership with the Federal Government to preemptively stop these illegal bunkering activities.
According to the human rights group, the Federal Government failed to build at least one functional refinery in Imo State, which is one of the most prolific crude oil-producing states, but instead opted to locate it in faraway Kaduna, where there is no sign of crude oil reserves.
“Why is the Federal Government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari making needless noise after the ugly fire incident in Imo State has already killed over 100 persons allegedly involved in illegal crude oil bunkering?
“Why has President Muhammadu Buhari not considered building one REFINERY in Imo State but opted to rather invest billions of taxpayers’ money in Niger Republic?
“This same President who is wasting over $2 billion USD borrowed by Nigeria to build railways in Niger Republic that is not under Nigeria’s jurisdiction is crying out his heart hypocritically after 100 Imo State citizens who went to refine crude oil illegally perished?
“Why did the Federal Government not erect one REFINERY in Imo State and why did the armed Security services under the command and control of President Muhammadu Buhari unable to detect these illegal bunkering activities or were the soldiers part of the illegality?
“So instead of making unnecessary noise in the media, the President and the governor of Imo State should constitute a judicial commission of inquiry to find out why these illegal REFINERY sites were allowed to operate even with all the massive deployment of soldiers to Imo State and South East of Nigeria,” the statement read.