From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has ordered the 23 Local Government Area chairmen to hire bulldozers and destroy every identified illegal crude oil bunkering and artisanal refinery sites in the state.
The governor has also asked the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, to provide adequate security for the Local Government Area chairmen as they embark on the mass destruction of illegal refinery sites across the State.
Governor Wike gave the order yesterday, during a meeting with the 23 Local Government Area chairmen, the State Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps ( NSCDC) at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
It would be recalled that Governor Wike had on Friday, January 14, 2022, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 Local Government Area chairmen to provide him a comprehensive list of all illegal refinery sites and their operators within their respective jurisdictions.
Governor Wike said with the receipt of the list of identified illegal refinery sites, the State government will provide financial support to the Local Government Area chairmen to hire bulldozers and swamp buggies for the purpose of destroying all the sites.
“I will not relent in this fight. And all of you should hire bulldozers. All those areas where the illegal refinery sites are in the bush, in the creek, clear the place. Government will give you some money to go and hire bulldozers to go and clear the sites, so that they will know we are serious.”
He urged the Commissioner of Police to give the Local Government Area chairmen adequate security personnel to go and destroy all illegal refinery sites.
According to the governor, the government will not allow those engaged in illegitimate business to operate in Rivers State.
“One thing I want to say and which is very clear, and like everybody knows, I am not against anybody making money. But, we cannot allow people to make money, while others are dying.”
The governor acknowledged that since the State government intensified the fight against illegal refinery operators, who are primarily responsible for the discharge of impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, the air quality in parts of the Rivers State has improved remarkably.
Governor Wike said he was mindful that as the State government intensifies the war against illegal refinery activities, the cartel behind illicit business would make effort to compromise unscrupulous security agents in the State.
The governor, however, warned that he would personally visit the Inspector General of Police, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps ( NSCDC) and the Chief of Army Staff in Abuja, to report any of their personnel implicated in illegal crude oil bunkering and artisanal refinery activities in Rivers State.
“You know in Nigeria, we don’t believe that anything can happen. We don’t take government serious. But, in our own case, they have no choice, they’ll take us serious.”
The governor, who regretted the failure of the Federal Government to take any action to end the soot crisis in the oil producing states, said his administration could not fold its arms and watch some deviant persons destroy the environment and health of the citizens.