By Peter Okolie
The Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Mustapha Ahmed, has appealed to Nigerians to desist from illegal activities and vandalism of public infrastructure.
Ahmed made the appeal on Friday during an on-the-spot assessment of the impact of Jan. 30 explosion in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the explosion, which was allegedly caused by a rivalry clash among oil vandals, also destroyed an articulated vehicle and hectares of rubber plantation in the Obitti forest.
Ahmed, who led a team from NEMA to the scene of the disaster at the Imo boundary with Rivers, said the explosion occurred in Rivers before the fire escalated into Imo.
“What we have seen is very disturbing. We can see and perceive the smell of dead bodies.
“People should be seriously warned: the damage that they do by syphoning oil affects both the lives and economy of the country.
“No one should tamper with government facilities, especially vandalism of oil pipelines,” he said.
Ahmed said that after the assessment of the incident, the agency would provide support to the affected families, in spite of the cause of the incident.
He directed the NEMA Owerri Operations Office to work with the Imo State Emergency Management Agency and other stakeholders to conduct a detailed assessment of the incident and evacuate the charred corpses.
In an interview with newsmen, the former Minister of State for Education, Mr Goodluck Opia, who hails from the affected council, described the incident as a “sad development.
“Incidentally, incidents like this do not teach anyone a lesson.
“Even as this is happening, a lot of criminals are still perpetrating vandalism over and over again in the Niger Delta region,” he said.
Opia, who commended President Bola Tinubu for providing the enabling environment for NEMA to function effectively, appealed for support for the victims of the incident.
“We definitely need your usual support and provision of succour for the affected families and entire community,” he said.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Imo State Emergency Management Agency, Mrs Priscilla Onyeoka, who guided the NEMA team to the scene of the disaster, commended Ahmed and his team for the visit.
The immediate past Chairman of Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area, Mr Marcel Amadioha, told the NEMA officials that the explosion affected many people and requested for assistance from the agency.
NAN reports that the NEMA team comprised the Director, Search and Rescue, Air Commodore Kennedy Mataluwo, and the Director, Disaster Planning Research and Forecasting, Dr Onimode Bandele.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Sam Oditah