Samuel Nkemakolem, Yenagoa
The Nigerian Navy on Saturday intensified its fight against oil thieves and illegal refineries in the Niger Delta as it destroyed over 100 illegal refining camps in Okarki, a suburb of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
The destruction of these illegal refineries was part of a four-day naval exercise codenamed ‘Operation Ex Toru-Gbown’ (waterways protection) in the region.
The exercise led to the destruction of over 100 illegal refineries, while several new ones just springing up were demolished by swamp buggy.
The Commander, Nigerian Naval Ship, NNS Soroh, Yenagoa, Commodore Felix Esekhile, who led the troops during an operation at Okarki, said the navy was returning to the creeks for the fifth time this year.
He said with the new facilities, including speed boats, acquired by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, the fight against pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft had been ramped up.
He warned all those still involved in the illegal business to exit the area of responsibility of the command, vowing that the Flag Officer Commanding the Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, had directed that all illegal refineries should be flushed out.
Esekhile added that his area of responsibility had made the entire space uncomfortable for oil thieves, which accounted for why they were moving to the outskirts of the state.
He stated that the navy had also discovered massive production of illegal fuel in Oluasiri, where crude oil stored in hundreds of cooking drums was destroyed.
Also speaking, the Chief Staff Officer, Central Naval Command, Commodore Joseph Akpan, said the exercise was to consolidate on previous ones, assuring that the navy would not relent until the menace was successfully tackled.
He added, “This is a swamp buggy operation in our push against oil theft and all other forms of illegalities involving crude and refined products.
“We have recorded some success and let me reiterate, just like the FOC said during the inauguration of this operation in Warri, that this is also to test the combat-readiness of specific bases under the AoR of the Central Naval Command.”
Akpan warned all those involved in the illegal business of crude refining to retreat or face the consequences of their actions.
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