The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS), Pathfinder, Rumuolumeni, Port Harcourt, Rivers State has carried out the destruction of illegal refining sites in the state.
The Commander of the NNS Pathfinder, Commodore Shuwa Mohammed, told reporters yesterday in Port Harcourt that four suspects, who were arrested and would be handed over to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
“Ironically, while setting the refinery ablaze, four out of the fleeing oil thieves came back and offered us a bribe of N600,000 to leave the refinery.
“The four suspects were subsequently arrested and would be handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for investigation and prosecution,” he said.
Mohammed said despite the renewed efforts by the naval high command to stop oil theft, the government should also sensitise of Nigerians rather than destruction alone,” he said.
During an aerial surveillance, many artisanal/illegal refineries, hidden under the mangrove forest, were sighted, with the environment polluted.
There are over 33,000 creeks in the Niger Delta. NNS Pathfinder monitors more than 1,000 of the creeks and waterways.
Mohammed said the mop-up was aimed at ending the colossal damage done to the environment by activities of the oil thieves, who he said had been puncturing pipelines to obtain crude oil illegally.
The commander, who was represented by the Base Operation Officer, Commander Chidi Ejiofor, said there would be no hiding place for oil thieves and pipeline vandals.
Mohammed said: “The mop-up ordered by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, is part of a series of operations lined up to end incessant crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in Rivers State.
“During the aerial surveillance, many new illegal refineries were sighted, which prompted troops’ mobilisation.
“In the course of our operations, an illegal refinery with 15 storage metal tanks, loaded with 145,000 litres of stolen crude oil, was set ablaze in Buguma, Asari-Toru LGA of Rivers State.”
He also stated that more than 50,000 litres of illegally-refined diesel, stored in 10 cooking tanks, was also destroyed.
He noted that a metal badge and dump, with the capacity of storing thousands of litres of petroleum products, were also destroyed.
Mohammed maintained that more ilegal operators who had fled the sites upon sighting the naval personnel, would soon be apprehended and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.
He noted that in spite of the renewed efforts by the naval high command to stop oil theft, sensitisation was key to end the illegal activity.
The commander said: “It is difficult to maintain 24-hour presence in all the creeks and oil facilities, especially considering the shallowness of some of the creeks, making them near impossible to patrol.”
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