Bayelsa to sanction Agip over pipeline explosion victims

Bayelsa State Government has threatened to sanction the management of Nigerian Agip Oil Company for unreasonable delays in releasing the documents and remains of victims of pipeline explosion which occurred at its Azuzuama oilfield.

Fourteen persons died in a pipeline explosion which occurred on July 9, 2015 at Agip’s oilfield in Azuzuama, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa.

Two regulatory officials from Bayelsa Ministry of Environment and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency died in the incident.

Bayelsa Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Iniruo Wills, had said in an interview on Wednesday that the management of Agip was withholding autopsy reports and death certificates of the victims.

Wills, who berated the stance of the oil multinational, said Bayelsa Government frowned on the development which had frustrated burial plans by the families of the deceased.

He said the government would wield the big stick to mete appropriate sanctions if the documents were not released immediately to allow the families to bury their dead loved ones.

The commissioner said, “Managing Director of Agip has refused or been foot-dragging to release the autopsy report, death certificate and collection card for our staff’s remains, several weeks after.

“We find this to be grossly indecent and an aggravation of the Azuzuama tragedy that we and the families are still grappling with.

“The families continue to be in suspense and have had to change burial plans because of this.

“We would treat it as a provocation and respond with appropriate governmental sanctions if we don’t receive these papers immediately.”

The explosion occurred when officials of Agip, representatives of the host community and Bayelsa Ministry of Environment were investigating the cause of a recent oil spill in the area.

Public Affairs Manager of NAOC, Mr. Dan Jumbo, declined comments when contacted for reactions on the development.

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