From Amos Odeh, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa government has threatened to sanction the management of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) over alleged “unreasonable delays” in releasing the documents and remains of victims of pipeline explosion which occurred at its field in Azuzuama.
A total of 14 people died in a pipeline explosion which occurred on July 9, 2015 at Agip’s oil fields in Azuzuama, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area in Bayelsa.
Two regulatory officials from Bayelsa Ministry of Environment and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) died in the incident.
Mr Iniruo Wills, Commissioner for Environment in Bayelsa, who spoke in an interview, said that the management of NOAC was withholding autopsy reports and death certificates of the victims.
Wills, who berated the stance of the oil firm, said the Bayelsa government frowned at the development which had frustrated burial plans by the families of the deceased.
He said that the state government would wield the big stick and mete appropriate sanctions against the oil firm if the documents were not released immediately to allow the families to bury the dead.
His words: “Managing Director of Agip has refused or has been foot-dragging to release the autopsy report, death certificate and collection card for our staff’s remains, several weeks on.
“We find this to be grossly indecent and an aggravation of the Azuzuama tragedy that we and the families are still grappling with. The family continues to be in suspense and has 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.”
Officials NAOC, representatives of the host community and Bayelsa Ministry of Environment were investigating the cause of a recent oil spill in the area when the explosion occurred.
Mr Dan Jumbo, Public Affairs Manager of NAOC, declined comments when contacted for reactions on the development.