Following latest directive by the Federal Government to security and intelligence agencies for the arrest of operators of illegal refineries in Imo State after the Friday explosion on one of the illegal facilities, which claimed many lives at Abaezi forest in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area (LGA) of the state, other owners of the illegal refineries in area, are presently on the run.
A source who in the area revealed this to EnergyDay’s correspondent on Tuesday.
The source said that the over hundred on known operators operating within Imo communities close to Bayelsa and Rivers States are fleeing to neighbouring Bayelsa State because of the unexpected discovery of their criminal acts by the Government and the general public due to the explosion at the refinery.
It was also gathered that the suspected owner of the exploded illegal refinery who was identified as Mr. Okenze Onyewoke,disappeared into thin air.
In furtherance of the move by the Federal Government to drive out operators of illegal oil refineries in the state, Governor Hope Uzodimma, the State Governor, has also ordered its security men to join in the clampdown on illegal oil refineries between the Abaezi and Abacheke forests in Ohaji/Egbema LGA of Imo State.
Declan Emelumba, Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, in a statement to the press on the explosion, stated that the State Government will also fumigate the explosion site in Abaezi for environmental safety.
“Both operators and patrons of illegal bunkering and refinery have been ordered to cease operation forthwith having realized that the consequences of their actions could lead to mass murder.
“The government has also directed security agencies in the state to intensify their search for the owners of the illegal refineries and ensure their immediate arrest and trial,” Emelumba said.
Also, the Igbo National Council (INC) on Monday, throwed its weight behind the Government as it began sensitisation of the youths in Imo State, whilst suggesting measures to close down illegal oil refining in the state.
The group noted that the rate of unemployment among Imo youths is responsible for the emergence of illegal oil refineries in the state.
It advised the Government to consider creating jobs for the unemployed youths in the state if the menace must stop.
Chilos Godsent, INC President, stated that both President Muhammadu Buhari and the State Governor should immediately visit the explosion site and urgently address the negative impact of unemployment among the youths in Imo.