The Police Command in Rivers has confirmed that 12 persons died in the early Friday morning explosion in Rumuekpe community of Emoha Local Government Area of the state.
The Spokesperson for the command, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, said in a statement in Port Harcourt that preliminary investigation indicated that the victims were scooping crude product when the site caught fire.
An eyewitness had earlier highlighted that the explosion occurred as a bus loaded with some siphoned crude went up in flames, as it was leaving the spot for an illegal refinery in the area.
“So far about 12 persons are believed to have been burnt to death. The identities of the victims are still unknown,” she stated.
Iringe-Koko also said that five vehicles and four tricycles were burnt to ashes at the explosion site.
Meanwhile, the command has admonished members of the public to stay away from illegal oil bunkering and contact it through telephone numbers, 08032003514 and 08098880134, to report any crime.
In another development, two brothers Musibau, 62 and Isiaka Ogunsola, 71, were on Friday docked before an Iyaganku Magistrate’s Court, Ibadan for alleged malicious damage.
The police charged the Ogunsola brothers with conspiracy, land grabbing, malicious damage and conduct likely to cause a breach of peace.
The defendants however pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Prosecution Counsel, ASP Sikiru Ibrahim, told the court that the defendants allegedly committed the offence in January in Eleepo village area, in Ibadan.
Ibrahim alleged that they trespassed into a land belonging to Mr. Adetayo Adeyemi, the complainant and maliciously damaged cash crops belonging to the complainant.
He also alleged that the defendants conducted themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace by stopping the complainant from entering his land.
He said the offense contravened the provisions of sections 516, 8, 457 and 249(d) of the Criminal laws of Oyo State, 2000, as well as Sections 9 and 7 of Oyo State Real Properties Protection laws, 2016.
The Magistrate, Mrs. T. B Oyekanmi, admitted the brothers to bail in the sum of N500,000 each with two sureties each in like sum.
She adjourned the case until April 13 for hearing.