Ben Dunno, Warri
Operatives attached to the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army have raided hideouts of a notorious cartel that specialises in illicitly refining petroleum products in Delta State, the Army has said.
Carrying out the raid in an operation that lasted over 4 hours, the soldiers spared no effort in combing the identified creek operational base of the cartel.
Major facilities, including giant reservoirs, drums and generating sets used by the Otumara based cartel in Warri South-West were destroyed by the special operatives.
Other items destroyed included hoses, pipes, tanks, makeshift shelters and Cotonou boats used by the owners of the illegal refinery in transporting their stolen products.
The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, in a chat with reporters said, “The location has been particularly notorious as an illegal refinery.”
Col. Iliyasu noted that the location has been raided at different times by operatives of various security agencies within a spate of eleven months.
“Today’s own is the third. Anytime such an operation is conducted, the place is being destroyed. Troops will keep monitoring activities in the place and will still come back to what you have seen. The last discovery of activities in this place was done six days ago,” the Army spokesman said.
Col. Iliyasu indicated that the General Officer Commanding the Nigerian Army 6 Division, Maj. Gen. Jamil Sarham, was at the location last Friday, August 30, for an on the spot assessment of the general area.
According to Col. Iliyasu, “Immediately when he saw the level of carnage, he directed the Commander, Sector 1, to deploy more troops to destroy equipment that are here and not only that, [but also to] occupy, with soldiers, this place permanently.
“Now, you have to appreciate this and I want to let you know that despite all our efforts that there are still some people that think they can subvert whatever the country or the leadership of the country is doing because, to me, this is one of the greatest economic sabotage to this nation.”
“Aside that, when you look around, you will be able to appreciate the level of environmental damage that this has caused and is still causing.
“Besides, you will get to know that the proceeds from thus illegality is being channeled to further more illegalities like illegal drugs smuggling, illegal arms smuggling and sponsoring other crimes.
“I know with the deployment of this troops, you can see them all around, the next thing is that, the owners of this place that have been put out of this illicit business will naturally want to hit back.
“We are waiting for them. They may want to go the way of blackmailing the security agencies for this effort because we are putting them out of business. Not only that, we have occupied this place permanently.”
Col. Iliyasu stated that the Delta State Government is highly supportive of the efforts and operations conducted by the Nigerian Army and other security agencies.
In his words: “How I wish you will extend this gory picture of this environment to the world so that everybody will know what these enemies of the state are doing.”
The Commander, Sector 1, Operation Delta Safe, Colonel Habib Baba Manu, corroborated the claims of the Army spokesman in a chat with reporters, assuring that “we will clean up this mess, but definitely it will take a while.”
“The negative impact on the environment is so severe that there is no acqatic life in the general area, not to talk about the impact on the economy.
The ongoing military operation, he said, is “something we will continue to intensify and ensure that our troops remain responsive to their duties,” adding that suspects arrested will be dealt with following due process.