Nembe explosion and the doubtful paradoxes
To start with, there has been a lot of reports on the Nembe explosion detailing what could best be described as ill-informed or sensational commentaries, lacking in rightness and truth.
Fresh facts emerging from credible sources have further discredited these ill-informed reports on the issue, which have been largely conflicting, inconsistent, and do not convey the correct position.
While it was first reported by some news platforms that over 50 people were killed and many more missing, this news has been outrightly disproved, as it was later discovered that no life was lost, and the missing people have been found.
Again, another allegation which held that the explosion was from a pipeline has been summarily negated, as statements earlier released by Aiteo have established that the explosion was from a well head, and not a pipeline. In fact, another statement made by the NNPC as a result of enquiries made by some groups has indicated that NNPC is not aware of any pipeline explosion in the Niger Delta.
While NOSDRA has accused Aiteo of trying to hide the cause of the explosion, alleging that Aiteo did not report the incidence to them within 24 hours as statutorily obligated, and refusing them access into the scene of the explosion; a close source has shown that this incident was reported by Aiteo to the agency within 24 hours of occurence, and a joint investigation visit is scheduled for later this week.
Besides, it is no news that the facility in question is a government facility, owned by NNPC, but operated by Aiteo as a joint venture partner. How then can Aiteo deny a government agency access to a facility owned by government? On whose behalf and privilege is Aiteo operating the facility if not by government as a joint venture partner?
Besides, it is not within the ambit of the law for NOSDRA to work in isolation without embarking on joint investigation with other necessary government agencies.
NOSDRA is charged with ensuring a safe, timely, effective and appropriate response to disastrous oil pollution and identifying high-risk and priority areas for protection and clean up, it does not have the locus standi to go on individual enquiry, except on a combined investigation team made up of other government agency including DPR amongst others.
Why then should NOSDRA accuse Aiteo of refusing them entry when this was clearly not the case? On what basis would NOSDRA take a unilateral decision to investigate the case on its own, without recourse to the statutorily prescribed model?
The emerging paradoxes from this story point at the fact that there is a libellous drive to achieve narrow motives. And although, it is not clear who are the people behind this smear campaign, enough proof from the various misrepresentation of facts contained in the reports and commentaries earlier issued makes it clear that the smear campaign has been a self-sustaining one.
The questions, therefore, is who are the people behind such defamatory plots? Why are they doing what they do? What is the motive behind their plan and what do they want?
Until we begin to provide answers to all these questions painstakingly, we may never arrive at who the real villains of the Nembe explosion really are and what next they have in store for the country.
Eyo-Honesty is a public affair analyst based in Eket, Akwa-Ibom state.
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