Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Navy Friday said it has destroyed 2,287 illegal refineries in the Niger delta region in last five years In its bid to rid crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering in the country.
The navy has also attributed the reduction in the number of illegal refineries in some parts of the country to the success of its “Operation River Sweep”, set up to tackle the menace.
Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral Ifeola Mohammed, made this known at a briefing held to mark the 64 Anniversary of the service.
Mohammed, while noting that the navy opted for a low-key anniversary this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, noted that the constant patrol of the nations waterways by the service has drastically reduced illegal oil dealings in the Nigerian Maritime environment from 2017 to 2019.
He said “in 2017, the Nigerian Navy denied criminal oil entrepreneurs dealing on illegal oil about 218,057 barrels of crude oil valued at about N3,724,413,560 and 60,553,415 litres of AGO valued at N11,807,915,925.
“Similarly, in 2018, illegal oil dealings of about 295,028 barrels of crude oil valued at N5,039,078,240 and 23,991,325 litres of AGO valued at N4,678,308,375 were denied the criminal oil entrepreneurs in the same vein, in 2019, the NN denied the criminals 296,192 barrels of crude oil valued at about N5,058,959,360 litres of AGO valued at N8,332,258,350”.
He disclosed further that the reduction in the number of the illegal refineries is attributable to the success of the Operation River Sweep, “which resulted in the impounding of approximately 9,406,810 barrels of crude oil, 130,517,570 litres of AGO, 897,475 litres of PMS and 3,407,500 litres of DPK from 2017 to 20 May 2020”.
According to Mohammed, within the time under review, 82 smuggling boats and 22 vehicles with cumulatively 61,719 bags of rice were impounded, while a total of 449 suspected smugglers were arrested.
Speaking on the achievements of the navy in the last five years, under the current leadership, the COPP said the navy has reinvigorated its welfare programme to further motivate personnel.
On operations, he said, “within the last five years, the NN conducted and also participated in over 60 exercises and operations. Pertinently, 35 major exercises and operations were game changers. Some of the game changers are Ex TSARE TEKU, Ex EAGLE EYE, Op RIVER SWEEP, Op CALM WATERS and Op SWIFT RESPONSE geared towards combating illicit activities in the Nigeria’s territorial waters, especially the back waters.
According to the Chief of Policy and Plans, the Nigerian Navy, within the time under review, acquired three capital ships including NNS Unity (an OPV), a new survey vessel and a Landing Ship Tank (LST).