Representatives Charge NNPC, Subsidiaries Over Endless Caritas University Fire Outbreak

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On Wednesday, the House of Representatives instructed the authorities of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) and its subsidiaries, including the Nigerian Gas Company Ltd, to take urgent action to extinguish the endless fire at the site of the Caritas University, Amorji Nike, Enugu State.

The resolution was passed following the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance on the need to investigate the unending fire at the Caritas University site, Amorji Nike, Enugu State, brought forward by Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu.

While seeking the intervention of the House, Hon. Okechukwu observed that the endless fire believed to be fueled by methane at the premises of Caritas University, Amorji Nike in Enugu State lasted for more than 21 days.

“The Chamber further notes that the fire which claimed the life of one person is believed to have started on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 after borehole drillers hired by the university struck a gas belt after approximately 1,242 feet underground.

“The Chamber also notes 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 extinguish the fire failed, including the spill. 12 water tanks with four chemical drums.

“The Chamber is aware that since the outbreak of the fire there has been no known intervention by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) or any of its agencies.

“The Chamber recalls that under our laws, the federal government is responsible for underground mineral resources and deposits.

“The Chamber is concerned that this incident taking place in a university community poses the risk of further exposure to the general public.

“The Chamber is concerned about the environmental risks caused by this alleged gas flaring given the precarious situations in the South-South geopolitical zone.

“The Chamber is aware of the indications of available mineral deposits in the southeast coupled with the recent recognition of Anambra and Kogi States as oil producing states, hence the need to explore for oil in Enugu’s belt.

“The Chamber is aware that experts have warned of the fire danger to the ecosystem as it could burn for 50 years.

“The Chamber is alarmed that approximately 5,000 cubic feet of gas is consumed every minute in the fire according to experts.

“The House is aware of the commitment of the 9th House of Representatives to ensure delivery of value and to make life less stressful for Nigerians,” said Hon. Okechukwu said.

In order to avert disaster, the Chamber called on the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd and its subsidiaries, the Department of Petroleum Resources and all relevant agencies to undertake a detailed study of the environmental impact of the fire.

To that end, the House has mandated its (upstream) Petroleum Resources Committee to follow up and report back to the House within two weeks for further legislation.

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