Over 1,000 illegal refineries have been destroyed with swamp buggies in the Delta creeks by the Nigerian Navy Ship, DELTA in ongoing raids in the last 29 days.
The Commander, NNS DELTA, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, disclosed this to reporters on Wednesday in Warri, Delta State.
Dewu said the illegal refineries and the equipment were destroyed in Otumara, Ogbegugu, Okpuku creeks and Bennett Island with the aid of swamp buggies, amphibious vehicles used in traversing swamps.
He said, “We decided to apply swamp buggies because they are more environmentally friendly and make it difficult for the perpetrators to resuscitate the illicit businesses after crushing their facilities.
“So far the exercise has been successful and we will not rest on our oars until the illicit trade is completely eradicated in our maritime domain.”
The navy had in the past relied heavily on the use of fire to destroy illegal refineries.
Dewu said the use of swamp buggies would bring a lasting solution to the ongoing economic sabotage.
On Tuesday, the commander led some navy personnel and reporters to Bennett Island in Warri South Local Government Area of the state to monitor the operation.
He noted that oil thieves had adopted a new method to prevent his men from carrying out their tasks.
He said, “The perpetrators in Bennett Island set fire round the illegal refineries to prevent us and the swamp buggy from gaining access.
“However, we were able to find our way into the sites and crushed their equipment despite the thick smoke and rain.
“Since we started clamping down on the illegal refineries with the aid of swamp buggies, the perpetrators have been restless.”
Dewu said the saboteurs were already feeling the impact of the destruction.
He said, “This might have generated the recent campaign for the removal of the Commander, Joint Task Force (JTF), code name “Operation Delta Safe,” Rear Adm. Suleiman Apochi, by the people.
“The campaign against JTF is a distraction; we will not be deterred.”
He warned the saboteurs to desist from the illicit act or be made to face the full wrath of the law.