Youths of Umuaduru and Umuiom communities in Osisioma Local Government Area of Abia State on Monday barricaded the main entrance of the Osisioma Depot of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in protest over multiple death and loss of property in the communities as a result of Friday Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS) product pipeline explosion in the respective communities.
The youths numbering over fifty also took the body of one of the deceased member of the community whose burial was to hold today (Monday) to the NNPC depot held a five minutes silence for their dead at the entrance of the facility where they later moved to the ever busy Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway.
According to them, it was to draw the attention of the management of the NNPC, the federal government and the general public to the multiple deaths recorded in their community over what they described as the negligence of the NNPC.
The youths carrying placards with various inscriptions such as “NNPC must tell us what happened to our people, NNPC has committed genocide in Osisioma Ngwa, The explosion was not as a result, We are calling on the international community to come to our rescue, Enough of these deaths caused by the carelessness from NNPC, Our source of blessing should not be a curse,” etc kept the body of the deceased caused heavy traffic jam on the expressway, causing commuters who could not endure the gridlock to trek to their respective destinations.
The youths who were peaceful in the protest that lasted for over five hours gave the Aba NNPC Depot Manager, Mr. Joseph Dumaka 24hrs to retract a statement attributed to him where he alleged that the reason for the Friday explosion was an act of vandals from the communities.
The youths also stated that if the Aba Depot manager, Mr. Dumaka fails to retract his comments and come open to tell the world what led to the leakage and why they should pump petroleum in a line that hasn’t been in use for eight years, they were going to open can of worms which the depot manager would not deny having knowledge of.
Our correspondent reports that contrary to the figure released by NNPC, Police and officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence (NSCDC), the death toll, according to the protesters at the time of the protest was one hundred and fifteen (115).
The youths who disclosed that ten (10) persons died Monday morning, said that the two communities and others whose loved ones were affected in the inferno have since Friday the incident happened been burying their dead ones. This is even as they stated that more people are in danger list due to the degree of burn that they sustained, even though they were receiving treatment at various hospitals and traditional homes.
The inability of the depot manager or any official of the Aba NNPC depot to come and address the youths got the youths that have remained peaceful infuriated that if not the timely efforts of the Osisioma Ngwa Youth Congress President, Mr. Emma Nduagu to calm the nerves of the youths who had threatened to break into the facility to fish out the depot manager wherever he is.
The chairman of Osisioma LGA, Benjamin Mgbeahuru represented by his Chief of Staff, Nwagbara Chimdirim Godpower said, “Our people have died in a very disastrous way. We must not take laws into our hands no matter what, but I must state it clearly that we are very angry to hear how the depot management lied that the cause of the explosion is as a result of vandal activities.
“We want to say it that it is an act of carelessness on the part ofPipelines and Product Marketing Company limited, (PPMC).
“We have invited them several times, but they refused. Humans are very hard to control and there is no way such leakages will happen in this time of hardship and you control everybody. Please I beg you to take back the casket and we assure you that justice must be done.
Speaking with journalists at the at the intensive care unit of the Abia State Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba Mr. Uchechukwu and Ugochukwu Madu, brothers to Chima Madu who is with his wife that also has 100 degrees of burnt said that though doctors have said that the chances of their brother and wife to survive the burn was slim, stated that they hope that God will keep them alive.
They thanked the Commissioner for Health, Hon. John Ahukanna and wife of the Abia State Governor, Deaconess Nkechi Ikpeazu for the assistance and agreeing to pay the hospital bills of their brother and sister in-law during their visits to the hospital.
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