THE Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has has arrested 19 men suspected of engaging in illegal refining of crude oil and bunkering in Rivers.
NSCDC Commandant in Rivers, Mr Micheal Ogar, who paraded the suspects to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Monday, said they were arrested in different locations during the command’s raid operations in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the raids were in support of Gov. Nyesom Wike’s fight against illegal crude oil refining, largely responsible for soot pollution in the state.
According to him, the mopping of illegal artisanal refineries, bunkering sites and arrest of suspects has restored confidence in the people.
“Our tactical teams on land and waterways have arrested several suspects with the help of credible information about the activities of illegal bunkers.
“In our latest operations, we arrested 19 suspects engaged in illegal bunkering offences in different locations in Rivers state.
“The state government has been fighting oil theft, and we are here to support both the Federal Government and the Rivers Government, to eliminate illegal bunkering from the state,” he said.
Ogar said items recovered during the operations were 28,050 litres of suspected adulterated diesel; three wooden boats and three 40/15 horsepower outboard engines.
Others are five vehicles and two trucks used to convey the petroleum products; one drum, one cellophane bag, two pumping machines and an unspecified quantity of Petroleum Motor Spirit (petrol).
He said the command was fully focussed on actualising government’s mandate to end crude oil theft, illegal refining of petroleum products and vandalism of critical oil and gas facilities.
“So, we warn those still indulging in illegal bunkering to desist forthwith and engage in legal businesses as there is no hiding place for them in Rivers.
“We are ready to go after them, smoke them out wherever they are hiding and bring them to justice,” he added.
The commandant urged those with useful information on the location of illegal bunkering sites and refineries, to come forward, assuring that their identity would be kept secret.
One of the suspects, Mba Ojima, he and his gang were arrested while they attempted to supply illegally refined diesel to a filling station for sale to motorists in Port Harcourt.
Another suspect, Chijioke Dennis, 28, said he was arrested around 3 a.m. on Thursday while in possession of adulterated petroleum products. (NAN)