Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
THE five communities of Odegu clan in Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State have expressed worries over alleged neglect of the oil companies, whose facility exploded to the plights of the people of the area.
The communities are demanding urgent attention from Nigerian Agip Oil Company and Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG).
A socio-cultural group in the area known as Odegu General Assembly, disclosed that the number of deaths in the gas explosion has risen, adding that several people in the area are coming down with different aliments as resultant effects of the much gaseous pollution in the area.
Earlier, the State Commissioner for Environment, Prof. Roseline Konya, had said that nobody died in the gas explosion and that the incident occurred in a forest.
Speaking yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, the chairman of the group, Eke Emenike, gave the names of the late victims as Sarah Obisike, Omevem Ezinwo, Nkesi Wodu, and Kingsley Enyadike and Samuel Amadi.
He said there are more death from other communities which names are yet be disclosed, stressing that others also drowned during the incident and their remains are yet to be recovered.
According to Emenike, James Nzokurum, Uche Ize, Faith Mannewe, Chidi Wekwa and a young lady (name not ascertained) drowned in a pond during the explosion.
Emenike said, “Observably, the explosion caused a deep panic in the minds of our people who ran helter scatter for safety thereby leaving so many people physically injured and myriads of health challenges such as hypertension and sundry respiratory problems.
“As at today, the dead toll from this incidence has risen to 10 contrary to position of NLNG, NAOC and some government officials.
“The walls of so many of our buildings were cracked because of the degree of the vibration, our environment is injected with massive poisonous gaseous substances inimical to human health and so many of our children who fled their homes in panic during the resultant tremor are still missing.”
Emenike said the pipeline explosion was a manifestation of the negligence meted against the people of Odegu, adding that after the incident the people were still been abandoned.
He worried that NAOC and N LNG were trying to shelve their responsibility and asked them to immediately commence remediation of the area and provide relief material to the affect people.
“In spite of the high magnitude of contribution of the kingdom to the earnings of the country and the above referred Transnational Corporations and the attendant hazards, the kingdom and her people are debased, neglected in provision of infrastructure and human capital development.
“To our dismay, instead of addressing the remediation, vigorous investigation, inspection and clean-up of the polluted environment, NLNG, NNPC, DPR, NAOC and IDSL are in conspiracy to build up a diversionary story on whose gas facility did the explosion erupted from, whose activity is responsible and who should bear the burden.”