From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 local government chairmen to provide a comprehensive list of illegal refineries and their operators within their jurisdiction.
He gave the ultimatum at a meeting with the council chairmen and heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, the Directorate of State Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps at Government House, yesterday. The governor challenged the council chairmen to prove that they are not complicit in the noxious business that has continued to threaten the health of Rivers people and the national economy.
He stated that as a responsible government, it would be unwise for them to fold their hands and do nothing to safeguard residents of the state from the death that is forced upon them by criminal-minded operators of illegal refineries. He warned that any of the council chairmen who is afraid to join in the fight against the criminals operating the illegal refineries should be ready to resign. According to the governor, part of their social contract with their people is also to protect them and stop any illegal economy practices in their domains.
The governor also frowned at security agencies for the ignominious role some of their personnel have played in aiding and providing cover for the operators of the illegal refineries in the state. The governor urged the State Police Commissioner, Eboka Friday, to redeploy out of the state a particular DPO in Emohua Local Government Area who operates an illegal refinery in the area.
He directed the CP to immediately arrest some traditional rulers who had been fingered for operating illegal refineries deep inside the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area. The governor further urged Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State command, to immediately transfer its personnel in charge of vandalization of pipelines in the state.
He urged the Department of State Service (DSS) to profile persons involved in the heinous illegal refining business and make the list available to him, assuring of acting on the list.