As part of its efforts to end illegal oil bunkering activities in the Niger Delta, Officers and men of the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS), Pathfinder, on Friday raided about 15 illegal crude oil refining sites, with capacity of producing over two million, seven hundred thousand (2,700,000) litres of crude oil in Rivers State.
The illegal refining sites are located at the creeks of Bokokiri, part of Ke community in Degema local government area of the State.
Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Commodore Desmond Igbo, while addressing Journalists shortly after touring the sites, said the operation was in line with the mandate of the Chief of Naval Staff to the Nigeria Navy to stop illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country.
He disclosed that the exercise was part of the Operation Delta Sanity recently launched by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogala.
Igbo who bemoaned the activities of the oil thieves said their action is sabotaging the nation’s economy, and as well destroying the environment.
“We are here in pursuance of the Chief of Naval Staff’s mandate to combat and ensure crude oil theft is not only reduced but eliminated.
“Our mission today is to stop all forms of oil bunkering activities going on here. These oil thieves steal the crude oil from the well heads and illegally refine the petroleum products here.
“We have fifteen illegal oil refining camps or sites here, each of them have six cooking pots and tanks where they store the stolen crude, and each tank contains about thirty thousand litres of crude, so, in all we have about 2.7million litres of crude oil that these unpatriotic Nigerians are stealing from country.”
“And, as you know, this (oil) is where Nigeria gets most of her revenue, but some scrupulous citizens engage in this act of sabotaging the nation’s economy.”
He maintained that his team will stop at nothing to ensure that illegal oil bunkering activities and crude oil theft are eliminated in his area of responsibility.
“We are determined to stop them from further stealing from the Nigerian economy and at the same time damaging the environment. This is not our first time, we have been doing it both day and night.
“After here, we will be going to other places to ensure that they do not continue in this illicit business. We will not relent until they stop.”
The Commander disclosed that the NNS Pathfinder is also collaborating with the locals especially traditional heads, youths bodies including NGOs to stop the menace.
“We have started community engagements, and the community leaders have promised to help us in their own capacity. We believe they know the people doing this, its their youths who live in their communities. We are not only doing kinetics, we also have other means like dialogue and sensitisation of the youths, women and their leaders.”
Though no arrest was made during the raid, but the commander said other arrested oil thieves in previous operations have been handed over to prosecuting agencies.