BusinessDay

Reps ask NNPC to put out ‘unending’ fire at Caritas University

The House of Representatives has called on the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) and its subsidiaries, including the Nigerian Gas Company Ltd to take urgent steps to put out the unending fire at the Caritas University, Amorji Nike, Enugu State.

It also asked NNPC and its subsidiaries, the Department of Petroleum Resources and all relevant agencies to undertake a detailed study of the environmental impact of the fire.

These resolutions were sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion of urgent public importance moved by the House deputy minority leader, Toby Okechukwu at plenary on Wednesday.

Moving the motion, Okechukwu said there has been an unending fire suspected to be fueled by methane gas at the premises of Caritas University, Amorji Nike, Enugu State for over 21 days.

He noted that the fire which has claimed one life, reportedly started on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 after borehole drillers engaged by the university struck a gas belt about 1,242 feet below the earth.

According to the lawmaker, the House noted that: “all efforts by the Nigerian Civil and Defense Corps (NSCDC), federal and state fire services, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and its state counterpart (SEMA) to put out the fire has failed, including pouring over twelve (12) tanks of water with four (4) drums of chemicals.

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“Aware that since the fire started, there has been no known intervention from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) or any of its agencies.

“Recall that pursuant to our laws, the federal government is responsible for underground mineral resources and deposits.”

Okechukwu expressed concern that the incident which has been ongoing in a university community poses the risk of further exposure to the general public.

He is worried about the environmental hazards occasioned by this suspected gas flaring bearing in mind the precarious situations in the South/south geopolitical zone.

The deputy minority leader said the House is: “Aware of the indications of available mineral deposits in the South East coupled with the recent recognition of Anambra and Kogi States as oil producing states, hence the need to explore oil in the Enugu belt.”

He said the House is also aware that experts have warned of the danger of the fire to the ecosystem as the same could burn for 50 years. And alarmed that an estimated 5,000 cubic feet of gas is consumed every minute in the fire according to experts.

He added that the House is also “mindful of the commitment of the 9th House of Representatives to ensure delivery of value and make life less stressful to Nigerians.”

Adopting the motion, the House mandated its committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) to follow up and report back within two weeks for further legislative action.

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