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Imo bunkering explosion: Buhari orders security agencies to clampdown on illegal refineries

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has ordered Nigerian security agencies to intensify the clampdown on operators of illegal refineries in Nigeria.

The president gave the directive on Sunday in while reacting to the explosion at an illegal oil refining site at Abaezi forest in the Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State, which claimed more than 100 lives.

In a statement by his Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari described the incident as a “catastrophe and a national disaster.

He said his government would hold sponsors of the refinery responsible for the tragedy.

He directed security agencies to apprehend and make the sponsors face the law.

“In conveying ‘the condolences and the full depth and range of the nation’s shock and trauma’ to the families of the victims, the Ohaji Egbema community and the government and people of Imo State, the president urged community leaders, the police, and the secret service never to allow the occurrence of the heart-breaking incident in any part of the country again.”

Meanwhile, the Imo State Police Command has declared the owner of the illegal refinery Okenze Onyewoke wanted.

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The police said Onyewoke is on the run.

Currently, Nigeria virtually depends on imports for all its domestic fuel needs.

The nation’s refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Warri and other locations are largely moribund.

Over a year ago, the Guardian UK reported how laboratory investigations by the international resource watchdog group Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) showed that fuels imported into Nigeria are dirtier than those obtained from local illegal refineries.

In February, contaminated imported fuel flooded the nation. The government-run Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and some firms dealing in fuel traded blame over the importation of the contaminated petrol, which allegedly damaged many cars across the country.

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