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Rivers dismantles 27 illegal refineries, arrests eight suspects

By Ann Godwin and Obinna Nwaoku, Port Harcourt
28 January 2022   |   2:38 am
Chairman of Akuku-Toru council of Rivers State, Rowland Sekibo, yesterday, destroyed no fewer than 27 illegal refineries during a joint operation by the task force on illegal bunkering

Wike. Photo/ facebook/GovernorNyesomEzenwoWikeCON

Chairman of Akuku-Toru council of Rivers State, Rowland Sekibo, yesterday, destroyed no fewer than 27 illegal refineries during a joint operation by the task force on illegal bunkering and local security vigilante (Akulga OSPAC).

The team also intercepted eight pipeline vandals caught vandalising oil facilities.

Sekibo said the suspects were intercepted at Boro creek in Kula community and are in police custody.

The council chairman disclosed this at the council secretariat at Abonnema, warning that anyone caught would be made to face the law.

He said: “In Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, the council had earlier in November, inaugurated a task force on the illegal refinery to stop the proliferation of this illicit business by ensuring that culprits are apprehended and handed over to appropriate authorities. With the directives of the governor, the team has been repositioned and reinvigorated to carry out a thorough job as the council is determined to rid the creeks and swamps of all illegal bunkering sites.

“The council has, therefore, declared total war on all oil bunkering activities and promised to traverse the length and breadth of the creeks to dislodge these hardened criminals, who are unconcerned about the dangers posed by their criminal activities.”

He said the clampdown, tagged “Operation End kpo-fire in Akulga,” commenced on Saturday, January 22, with a raid of creeks in Obonoma community, jointly carried out by the Nigerian Navy, the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), and the Police.

“A total of six locally fabricated ovens/artisanal refineries and five oil reservoirs filled with products suspected to be crude oil and refined petroleum products allegedly owned and operated by one Mr. Ikior, were discovered.

“The task force was able to manually dismantle and destroy the ovens to avert any outbreak of fire that will further pollute the already combustible environment, thereby adding to the menace of black carbon in the atmosphere rather than diminishing its effect.”

“We also uncovered makeshift camps already deserted by the criminals as we approached their hideouts. The task force was able to dismantle the ovens and the makeshift huts and confiscate some equipment on the sites.”

He said the campaign to rid the creeks of oil bunkering activities, which was initially scheduled to be a seven-day operation, would be extended if the need arises.

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