By G9ija

The Senate has mourned those killed in an explosion at the site of an illegal refinery in Abaezi community in Ohagi-Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State.

Lawmakers in the Senate reached the decision following a point of order raised by the member representing Imo West senatorial district, Senator Rochas Okorocha, during the plenary on Wednesday in Abuja.

Okorocha, while relying on order 42 of the Senate Standing Order, 2022 as amended, informed his colleagues during plenary that the incident which occurred last Friday led to the death of 110 people.

According to him, the tragic incident has thrown the state into mourning and the explosion was caused as a result of illegal refining.

The lawmaker called on the Federal Government to consider legislation to provide for local technology for artisanal and modular refineries considering the gap in Nigeria’s refining capacity.

Commenting on the incident, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, underscored the need for local refining of petroleum products to boost the nation’s revenue.

He, however, called on the Federal Government to take prompt action through the introduction of regulatory policies to prevent disasters associated with the illegal refining of crude oil in Nigeria.

“We cannot in any true sense benefit in a practical way from the oil and gas resources we have in Nigeria if we don’t add the value of refining it,” Lawan said. “Of course, we know what it means as at today, even though crude oil sells for higher, but because we have to import the refined products, the increase in price at the international market does not seem to confer any advantage to our country.

“So, that speaks volumes that we have to refine our petroleum products in Nigeria if we would have to enjoy the benefits of an endowment like that. For Nigerians who get engaged and involved in this kind of illegal refining activities, I think the government will have to take action.

“It is for government to come to decision on how we should be able to deal with these illegal activities. On one hand, we may encourage private participation, in fact, that is the best way to go. But illegal refining again, at the moment, is causing a lot of damage to our country.

“So, it is a very dicey situation, but we have to utilise the ingenuity of our citizens who are creative and innovative, but in a much-regulated way so that we don’t experience this kind of disaster.”

The Senate, thereafter, observed a minute silence to mourn the victims of the explosion in Imo State.