The Nigerian Army said on Wednesday that it has discovered an illegal oil bunkering site in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The illegal bunkering site, according to the army, is about one kilometre from the Port Harcourt port.
Commander of 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Brigadie Steven Olabanji, explained that security operatives stormed the site after being tipped off by well-meaning Nigerians.
Olabanji pointed out that the level of oil theft within the site was massive, adding that thousands of litres of illegally refined diesel were discovered at the Makoba Beach site.
He explained that army personnel, who stormed the area on Monday, noticed the lifting of illegally refined petroleum products in large quantities into local boats.
Olabanji added that over 5,000 drums of illegally refined fuel and a badge containing 165,000 litres of diesel were found at the site.
According to him, “About 16:40 hours on Monday, we got an information that some illegal bunkering activities were going on along Makoba Beach. On arrival, our personnel discovered illegal activities, which involved bunkering of illegally refined petroleum products and lifting of diesel to local boats.
“At the site, we found over 5,000 drums loaded with illegally refined diesel, four tanker trucks containing 132,000 litres of diesel combined and a badge with 165,000 litres of stolen diesel.
“This discovery is unprecedented because since we started our operations 10 days ago, this is about the biggest that we have uncovered,” he said.
Maintaining that additional 150 drums containing 3,150 litres of diesel was discovered in 21 Cotonou boats, Olabanji added that 13 suspects were apprehended at the site.
He, however, disclosed that the site was not immediately set ablaze as a result if its proximity to the NPA and some buildings within the area.
Olabanji said, “Our mandate requires us to destroy the site, but we cannot do this because it will degrade the environment and affect residents as it is situated in the heart of Port Harcourt. Our plan is to move them to a safe location for destruction.”
He stated that preliminary investigation had started with a view to unravelling sponsors of the facility.
The Army Commander also noted that those arrested would be handed over to relevant authorities for further investigation and prosecution.
He promised that the Joint Military Task Force would not relent in its determination to rid the state of illegal bunkering activities.
Olabanji expressed the need for members of the public to give the JTF information that could lead to the arrest of oil thieves.
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