Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has said that naval operations in the Niger Delta have uncovered several illegal refineries and huge equipment used for oil bunkering in Delta, Cross Rivers and Akwa Ibom states.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, who made this known on Monday, said the operatives intercepted several wooden boats laden with over 100,000 barrels of stolen crudes and 715, bags of rice.
Gen Enenche, who made the disclosure in a statement in the update of military operations in the Niger delta said:
‘The Nigerian Navy Ship DELTA on 10 Jun 20, discovered a newly constructed illegal refining site around Bennett Island in Warri South LGA of Delta State. The site had 5 ovens, 5 coolers and 8 surface metal storage tanks cumulatively laden with about 943.3 barrels of product suspected to be crude oil. No arrest was made as the perpetrators fled on sighting the patrol team. Same day, the team located another illegal refining site around Uwakeno Community in Warri South LGA of Delta State. The site had 4 ovens, 4 coolers, 6 surface metal storage tanks and 2 dug out pits cumulatively laden with about 10,000 litres of products suspected to be illegally refined AGO and 440.2 barrels of stolen crude oil. The storage facilities were confiscated and the site has been earmarked for swamp buggy operation.
‘Similarly, on 13 Jun 20, acting on INTREP, Nigerian Navy Ship DELTA patrol team intercepted a large wooden boat laden with about 70,000 litres of product suspected to be illegally refined AGO in 6 metal storage tanks along Benin River in Warri North LGA of Delta State. Efforts are ongoing to convey the boat and content to the Base.
‘In the same vein, Nigerian Navy Ship PATHFINDER patrol team conducted anti-Crude Oil Theft (COT)/anti-illegal bunkering operations in its Area of Responsibility during the week. On 9 Jun 20, the Base patrol team located an illegal refining site around Isaka and Alakiri general area. The site had reservoirs laden with an about 1,257 barrels of crude oil. The site was dismantled. No arrest was made as the perpetrators fled on sighting the patrol team.
‘Relatedly, Operation CALM WATERS and Operation SWIFT RESPONSE have continued to record remarkable successes. The successes recorded within the week include seizure of foreign parboiled rice as well as the arrest of boats involved in smuggling activities amongst others. On 8 Jun 20, operatives of the Joint Border Drill intercepted an abandoned truck at Agbaragba Market, Ikom LGA of Cross River State loaded with 410 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice. The rice was suspected to have been smuggled in from the Republic of Cameroon. Accordingly, the bags of rice and vehicle were evacuated to Mfum Border Post for onward movement to Government Warehouse, Calabar.
‘Meanwhile, on 12 Jun 20, the combined teams of OSR and Nigeria Customs Service Strike Force acting on credible intelligence raided a makeshift warehouse at Ishiet, Uruan LGA of Akwa Ibom State and confiscated 305 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice. The bags of rice were evacuated to Nigeria Customs Warehouse, Uyo for further action.
‘The Chief of the Naval Staff congratulates the troops for their professionalism and efforts in curbing economic sabotage within the maritime environment. Equally the High Command of the Armed Forces of Nigeria congratulates the troops and urges them to remain steadfast and focused as they sustain the fight against economic sabotage.’