The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria) has received reports from its Network on Organized Crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea (NOCINAG) that an explosion at an illegal artisanal crude oil refinery site in Rivers State has left over a dozen dead.

The incident, reported to have occurred in Obiafor 1 and 2, near the Obrikom area of the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area (ONELGA), is said to have killed over a dozen people, including women.

The Executive Director of the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, who has been campaigning against artisanal refineries, environmental pollution, and proposing alternative livelihood opportunities for artisanal crude oil refiners in the Niger Delta, confirmed the incident in a statement released in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Tuesday, December 26.

The statement said the actual number of people who died in the explosion is not clear, as some community members are reporting that the casualties are 20 while others say it is over 100, with many of them having sustained different degrees of injuries and hospitalized.

While some sources reported that the incident occurred on Sunday, December 24, others said it was on Wednesday, December 20, but was being hidden from members of the public.

The current explosion came two months after a similar explosion at an artisanal refinery site on October 1, 2023, in Ibaa community, Emohua local government area of Rivers State, which left over 35 people, including pregnant women, dead.

Mr. Fyneface reiterates his call on youths in Rivers State and across the Niger Delta to stop acts of pipeline vandalism, artisanal crude oil refineries, and associated environmental pollution.

He also called on the federal government to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for artisanal refiners through the establishment of its July 27, 2020 proposal called “Presidential Artisanal Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (PACORDI)” for the modernization, standardization, legalization and integration of artisanal refineries into the national economy, as well as the issuance of modular refinery licenses for artisanal refiners in the Niger Delta as proposed by the federal government in 2017 to mitigate acts of crude oil theft, artisanal refineries and avoidable death of this nature, among others.

Executive Director, YEAC-Nigeria
December 26, 2023.