112 Illegal Refineries Discovered In Rivers Council
Over 112 illegal refineries have been discovered in the creeks of Ikwerre Local Government Area, Rivers State.
The Chairman of the Council, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike said at the weekend that about 99 per cent of the cooking sites were located in one community called Ogbodo.
Revealing that the community was close to about 17 Shell lines, Nwanosike said the council would fight the menace to a logical conclusion.
He said: “We have identified over 112 cooking sites. About 99 per cent of them are located in one community called Ogbodo close to about 17 Shell lines. We are taking it head-on. There is no going back until all results are achieved. We will never allow it to happen again”.
It was gathered Governor Nyesom Wike, fulfilled his promise to provide financial assistance to local government chairmen to enable them destroy all illegal refineries within their domains.
The Governor at the weekend called on the Federal Government to fight illegal refineries and oil theft in a similar way it was waging war against terrorism.
Wike also urged traditional rulers in the state to force out operators of illegal refineries from their domains.
The Governor told the traditional rulers that those involved in illegal refineries were sabotaging the national economy.
He said: “I should think that the way federal government intends to fight insurgency, is the way they should fight illegal oil bunkering, because it is a sabotage on the national economy. Very big sabotage. It affects our own revenue.
“If we are supposed to produce 2 million barrels for example, we are now producing 1.2 million. And in that 1.2 million barrels, It affects Rivers state because we are not producing up to the number we are supposed to produce, and then we can’t get the money to do whatever you want us to do.”
The Governor also said illegal refineries activities constituted environmental hazard capable of causing cancer-related illnesses in the state.
He said his primary concern was to ensure that the health of residents of the State was not jeopardised.
According to him: “It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to see how this thing can be stopped. As I speak to you, nobody has called me from the Federal Government to say how they can support us. But that is not my business.
“My business is the health of my people. I will not because the federal government is not interested to stop it, therefore my people should die. If everybody dies, who are you going to govern.”
The Governor urged the traditional rulers not to be less concerned about the activities of illegal oil refinery operators, but to frantically mobilise members of their community development committees (CDC) and the leadership of their youth groups to work in synergy to dislodge them from their domain.
Wike berated the Nigerian Police for being complicit in the criminal act of illegal oil bunkering, saying they were not committed to the fight to stop the operations.
He also described as embarrassing how officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) had continued to be complicit in the act and shamelessly be involved in sabotaging the national economy.
He said: “I don’t know how I can be a security officer sent to a place to protect people, to protect whatsoever belongs to the Federal Government, at the same time, I’m involved in sabotaging the national economy.
“I don’t understand how I can wear uniform and be involved in that. If they do not want to support us, we have no choice but to expose all the atrocities that is going on in this State.”
Wike said he recently received intelligence that an Army major was providing exit services to illegally refined petroleum products and had to send security personnel to thwart it.
“In fact, I had to send my special security to go and intercept a major, who was trying to escort some of these illegal products”, he said.
The Governor declared that his administration would not hesitate to expose any security personnel involved in such illegal refinery activities.
Wike frowned at the inability of the Police to arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka and other members of the illegal bunkering cartel operating at Ibaa community in Ikwerre Local Government Area .