The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said its men destroyed four illegal oil refining sites in Cawthome Channel One in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The corps said suspected oil thieves had vandalised facilities including pipes belonging to Sahara Oil, thereby siphoning the crude, with the intent to establish an illegal refining site.
The NSCDC spokesman, Rivers State Command, Olufemi Ayodele, disclosed this in a statement issued in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on Monday night.
Ayodele said following intelligence gathered by its marine unit, personnel moved in to stop the illicit activity and possibly apprehend the suspects.
The statement read, “With a renewed vigour to combat the menace of illegal oil bunkering activities, vandalism of oil pipelines and illegal dealings in petroleum products, the Marine Unit of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State Command, has foiled the operations of owners of local refineries in Cawthome Channel One, Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
“The NSCDC Commandant-General, Dr. Ahmed Audu, has zero tolerance for all acts of economic sabotage, hence, he directed the Rivers State Commandant, Basil Igwebueze, to step up intelligence and protection of all critical national assets and infrastructure both on land and the waterways.
“The success of the Marine Unit hinged on credible intelligence that some suspects were carrying out illegal oil bunkering activities at Cawthome Channel in Damakiri Area, having vandalised Sahara Oil Well Heads and pipes; they went further to siphon crude oiil and establish a local refining site in the area.”
Ayodele added that “with full determination to combat the menace of illegal oil bunkering activities on the waterways; the Marine Unit swung into action by taking charge of the environment.
“Notably, the suspects took to their heels upon sighting the marine operatives.
“The State Commandant ordered massive destruction of all materials used in carrying out the illegal oil bunkering and over four different refining stations have been destroyed altogether.”
He added, “To ensure that the suspects do not reconstruct the local refinery the NSCDC Marine Personnel has also been directed to intensify patrol in the area.
“Our commitment to ensuring that Rivers State is a safe haven for the dwellers remains firm, and most importantly, our nation must be savaged from economic saboteurs who are milking on the wealth and resources of the country.”
He said the command will not relent in collaborating with all sister security agencies to fight illegal oil bunkering and related activities in the state to a standstill.
The command appealed to the public to continue assisting it with “actionable information” that would lead to the arrest of criminal-minded persons.
Ayodele assured that any information given to the corps will be treated with the utmost confidentiality and the identity of such persons fully protected.
The air component of Operation Delta Safe, in December 2023, destroyed six illegal oil refining sites in the Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The illegal sites, according to the Director, Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, were said to be clustered within an approximately 80-meter radius, situated approximately 6 nautical miles south of Opu Arugbana. (Punch)