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May 29, 2024

Protest as Imo govt orders closure of gas construction site

Protest as Imo govt orders closure of gas construction site

…No, the community approved the gas construction plant – Land owner

…I support the closure – Monarch

…We’ve written to NESERA others for intervention – Human rights group

By Chinonso Alozie

Owerri- The Imo state government on Wednesday ordered the stoppage of a gas construction plant in Umuriem Autonomous Community, Nekede in Owerri West Council Area of Imo state.

A team of the officials from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, led by Ifeanyi Onyiche, stormed the community following the protest by some leaders of the area against the location of the gas plant.

The government officials stopped the construction with the inscription “Stop work order by Ministry of Petroleum.” adding that they acted on the petition alleging that the construction of the gas plant would endanger the community.

Reacting, the traditional ruler of Umuriem Autonomous Community, Nekede in Owerri West Council Area of Imo state, HRH Eze George Agim, said: “Yes I am aware about two weeks ago I received a petition from my people from Umuriem about the construction of the gas plant and I invited some elders from the area and they told me that the construction of the gas plant will endanger their lives, they even sited the similar incident that killed over 6 persons in Umuoma in Nekede last three years, so it was wrong. So, what the community said is bad. I also condemn it. I support the community.”

Also, the convener of a human rights body called Onurubee, Marjorie Ezeihe, said: “We are here because we received a cry that somebody is constructing a gas plant in their midst and it is endangering their lives. Preliminary field study showed that the plant is 20 meters way from buildings. To resolve it we wrote to the three mandate offices, state Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NASERA and Department of Upstream sector for intervention.”

Also speaking, the owner of the land Reverend Ekema Njoku, revealed that the Umuriem community unanimously agreed and approved the construction of the gas plant “Umuriem welfare association granted the consent to build the gas plant,” he said.

In his remark, one of the leaders of the community, Pastor Nwaneri Charles Eberechukwu, was of the view that; “We pleaded that they stop the construction of the gas plant but they refused. We said we do not want what happened in Umuoma last three years where many were said to have died as a result of gas explosion to happen here. So, we did not want to take laws into our hands that is while we reached out for assistance.”