Spaces for Change (S4C), a civil society organization, has slammed the government for the devastations and loss of a 100 lives at the April 22, 2022 petrol fire at Abaezi forest in Mbahu community in Imo State, saying it has failed to provide adequate employment and empowerment opportunities for youths.
This it said had pushed the youths toward seeking alternate sources of income at the detriment of their lives.
Apart from the loss of lives, massive destruction of properties also accompanied the explosion.
Spaces for Change, in a statement by Sefa Ikpa and given to Persecondnews, said the devastated community members are still shocked at the magnitude of the losses.
“Spaces for Change|S4C’s fact finding mission gathered that the explosion was a result of illegal oil and gas activities on a site allegedly owned by one Okenze Onyenwoke, a native of Abacheke community in the Abaezi Forest.
“Several eyewitness reports state that the reckless activities around the artisanal refining site caused the explosion.
“This is a sad and worrisome development as victims were burnt beyond recognition with several others sustaining various degrees of injuries in the fire outbreak and several cars and properties destroyed, leaving irreparable effects on the environment.
“Spaces for Change|S4C hereby condoles with the families that lost loved ones in this unfortunate incident.
“We join men of goodwill to pray for swift recovery for the injured, and call for an in-depth investigation into this unfortunate incident to further unravel illegal refineries still operating in the state to forestall a repeat of this occurrence,’’ Persecondnews quotes the organization as saying.
Asking the government not to shy away from its responsibility of punishing those responsible for the unfortunate deaths, Spaces for Change stated:“We hope that those operating the Abaezi illegal refinery will be held accountable for these criminal activities and punished accordingly to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Accordingly, we use this opportunity to encourage host community members, particularly the youth to desist from illegal bunkering of oil, gas and other petroleum products which is a crime as stated in the Petroleum Industry Act(PIA) Section 228(a-b).