In its determination to end oil theft in the country, the Nigerian Navy has set ablaze two illegal refineries in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Base Operations Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, Commander Chido Yahaya, also disclosed that two Cotonou boats laden with stolen crude oil were similarly set ablaze.
Yahaya explained that the two illegal refineries that were destroyed had the capacity of producing N8m worth of diesel every day.
Speaking on Friday in Abonema, the headquarters of Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, Yahaya stated that no arrest was made as criminals operating the illegal refineries took to their heels as soon as they noticed the presence of security operatives within the area.
He pointed out that the patrol team had on Thursday sighted the illegal crude oil refining sites around Opobo creeks, adding that suspects were still working when the patrol team got to the place.
According to him, “We went out on patrol yesterday night (Thursday night), and based on intelligence report; the patrol team was able to discover this illegal crude oil refining sites at Opobo creek close to Abonema town.
“There are two active illegal crude oil refining sites (which) as at the time the patrol team arrived early this morning, were still working. On this refinery, you have crude oil and the crude oil is being refined to obtain AGO (diesel) and some quantity of kerosene.
“Based on the sizes of the (refining) tanks, there are about 15, 000 litres of refined AGO that have been produced while the remaining crude oil that they are yet to refine runs into thousands of litres.”
Explaining why the Navy decided to destroy the illegal refineries and the two Cotonou boats, Yahaya stated that the action was taken because no arrest was made at the scene of the crime.
He, however, assured that the Nigerian Navy would continue to mount 24-hour surveillance through its water and air patrol of the creeks in order to stop illegal bunkering.
Yahaya warned criminals involved in the illicit business to desist from it or be ready to face the wrath of the law whenever they were caught.
He appealed to members of the public to give useful information to security agencies that would lead to the arrest of criminals in Nigeria’s waterways.
He said, “People should desist from act of criminality and search for legal means of livelihood because we will continue to go after them and will not relent in our efforts to bring them to justice.”
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