Naomi Gabriel —
The Chairman of Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Hope Ikiriko, says no fewer than 82 illegal crude oil refineries across communities within the area have been destroyed.
Ikiriko, in a statement released in Port Harcourt by Mr Madu Madueke, the Press Secretary of the council, said the destruction was carried out by the local government, in collaboration with security agencies.
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The raid on the illegal refineries followed Gov. Nyesom Wike’s order to the 23 local government chairmen in the state to identify and destroy all illegal crude oil bunkering and artisanal refining sites in their areas.
While saying that the local government embarked on the raid with a view to eradicating crude oil theft in the area, the council chairman restated his commitment to sustaining the fight against the illicit trade until sanity was restored to the area now bedeviled by poor air quality.
“During the exercise,19 illegal refining points were destroyed in Idu-Ekpeye and three in Ebrass communities while drilling machines and other local equipment used for the illegal crude trade were impounded.
“Four camps were destroyed in Ukpeliede, a community which harboured 28 illegal crude refining points including Ula-Okobo, Oshika, Akala-Olu, Akiogbologbo and Okarki, among others were destroyed during the raid,” he said.
“We will no longer tolerate lawlessness in this area and that’s why we have come to ensure an end to this life threatening bunkering business.
“Operators have ignored warnings; they bhave received series of warnings from the Governor through different means. We are left with no option than to protect our environment”, he said.
Ikiriko commended volunteers who provided tip-offs that enabled the raid, but blamed the multinational oil companies in the state for complicity and poor relationship government at all levels.