- Â 13 Delta Christian pilgrims absconded in Israel in 2017
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
No fewer than 24 persons lost their lives following at least 115 fire incidents in parts of Delta State between June 2015 and the first quarter of this year.
The Delta State Commissioner in charge of Special Duties, Mr Ernest Ogwezzy, who disclosed this to newsmen in Asaba on Monday, also revealed that over N13.237 billion worth of property was lost as a result of fire outbreaks across the state during the same period.
Nonetheless, public and private property worth an estimated N8.38 trillion were saved through the intervention of the various units of the state fire service command, Ogwezzy said.
Responding to questions on what his directorate was doing about the present dangers posed by filling stations and gas plants built within residential areas, since most of the major fire outbreaks in the state were from filling stations, Ogwezzy said that his bureau always took the matter seriously.
Apart from obtaining due clearance from the state fire service command for the building of petrol or fuel stations, fuel outlet owners are also mandated to obtain clearance from other relevant state and federal authorities to ensure that filling stations and gas plants are not situated in built-up residential areas, he observed.
The special duties commissioner, who was flanked at the media conference by his information counterpart, Mr Patrick Ukah, also disclosed that the state government was putting new and stringent measures in place to check the incidence of unscrupulous persons taking advantage of the opportunity of the pilgrimage to emigrate to European or other countries.
This has become necessary as a total of 13 persons on Christian pilgrimage to Israel disappeared or absconded from the delegation from Delta State in 2017 alone, he pointed out.
Those who absconded were, however, discovered to be persons who were really not from the state but had managed to get into the state team to the 2017 journey to the Christian holy places in Israel.
Ogwizzy however attributed the relatively high number of Muslims performing annual pilgrimage through the state Muslim Welfare Board to interest through private sponsorship rather than due to the alleged influence of hidden Islamisation agenda in Nigeria.
He stressed that Delta State was not responsible for sponsoring most of the Muslim pilgrims and even those on Christian pilgrimage though the state government has formally sponsored a total of 564 persons on Christian and Muslim pilgrimage since 2015.
The commissioner, who stressed that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa was very passionate about the welfare of the people of the state, noted that the state government has increasingly rendered diverse assistance to numerous and various disaster victims through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), including farmers and other flood victims as well as helping citizens repatriated from Libya to resettle.
According to him, during the period under review, â€œthe Agency inspected over 115 cases of fire disaster, 60 cases of rainstorm, over 2,500 cases of flood disasterâ€.
Meanwhile, the commissioner said that his directorate has applied to the state governor for the establishment of a special internally displaced persons camp (IDP), expressing confidence that approval of the IDP camp by the governor will not be long in coming.