VISIT TO IBAA ARTISANAL REFINERY EXPLOSION SITE, ONE MONTH AFTER INCIDENT
One month after the explosion at the artisanal refinery site in Ibaa community in the Emohua local government area of Rivers State that killed over 35 people on October 1, 2023, the Executive Director of Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface visited the community in the early afternoon of Wednesday, November 1. Mr. Fyneface touched the site of the explosion, which was over a 20-minute ride on a motorcycle.
At the site, I could still see that despite the mass burial and some corpses taken home for burial, about five skeletons were still seen at the site, decaying with a stinking and offensive odour welcoming you to the scene.
Cassava and other plants around the area are struggling to grow back while the whole ground is filled with ashes, described by the community guide as human remains and as it could also be seen to be so. A mixture of human and crude oil was also seen on the stagnant water at the site, showing different incomprehensible colours.
Photos: Viewer discretion is advised.
ADVOCACY CENGTRE’S DIRECTOR MEETS WITH SOME SURVIVING VICTIMS OF CRUDE OIL EXPLOSION IN IBAA COMMUNITY
The Executive Director of the Advocacy Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, returned to the Ibaa Community late in the afternoon of Wednesday, November 1, 2023; met and sympathized with some victims of the crude oil explosion. He was told that two explosions that left people dead had so far occurred in the community. The first, he was told, happened on December 1, 2022, and the second was that of October 1, 2023.
Mr. Fyneface was shown and saw many victims living and still nursing injuries sustained from the December 1, 2022, explosion that still have some fresh wounds to date. Of all that I saw and met, I decided to take photos with only one boy who said he was in school and came back home to join the illegal crude oil refining business so that he could raise money for his school fees. He was caught in the December 1, 2022, explosion, which also burned his younger sister, whom I also saw and who is still nursing fresh wounds on her leg since December 1, 2022, to date.
This boy below👇 also sadly told me that his mother, in the process of buying the illegally refined product to sell so that she could earn income to feed the family, was also caught in the explosion of October 1, 2023, which killed over 35 people, and she died.
In sympathy, while admonishing them against the act and after exhausting the money he went with during the first and second visits, he assured him and sent him a token amount of money when I was back in Port Harcourt, as he had promised to take care of himself. He hopes to revisit the support effort, and we can together support him as he needs a surgical operation to be able to move his two hands again. I then also decided to advocate for the youths of the community for the government, international community, and oil companies operating in the community to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for the youths and people of Ibaa to forestall the ugly incidents of the explosions from future occurrences, as it doesn’t seem as if it has been completely stopped.
THE LAUNCH OF INTERNATIONAL ADVOCACY FOR ALTERNATIVE LIVELIHOOD OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTHS AND PEOPLE OF IBAA COMMUNITY TO DISABUSE THEIR MINDS FROM ARTISANAL REFINERIES, POLLUTION, ASSOCIATED EXPLOSIONS AND KILLINGS
Furthermore, Mr, Fyneface returned to Ibaa community in the late afternoon of November 1, 2023, with a team of foreign journalists to advocate for the provision of alternative livelihood opportunities for artisanal refiners, youths, and people of the community to disabuse their minds from artisanal refineries, pollution, associated explosions, and killings.
At the community town square, I addressed the foreign media, laying down the underlining conditions and issues that drove the youths into artisanal refineries, where most of them met their untimely deaths in the full glare and listening of many community members present, including the chief and youths.
I gave reasons why the youths of not only Ibaa but many other communities in the Niger Delta are engaged in artisanal refineries and called on the governments at all levels, especially the Federal Government, the international community, and oil companies operating in the community, to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for the youths and people of Ibaa to forestall the ugly incidents of the explosions and the loss of lives from future occurrences.
When asked what I think the alternative livelihood opportunities should be, I told the foreign media, as a message to the government, oil companies and international community that it may include but not limited the President Bola Tinubu administration issuing the former President Muhammadu Buhari’s approved 18 Modular Refinery Licenses, establishing the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre’s (YEAC-Nigeria) proposed Presidential Artisanal Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative (PACORDI) that modernizes, legalises and integrates artisanal refineries into the national economy, establishment of an Industrial Park in the Niger Delta region to train and build the capacity of youths with skills that can earn them a legitimate alternative livelihood opportunities among others.