The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps Commandant General’s Special Intelligence Squad has uncovered a massive illegal oil refining site at a forest in Odagwa Community in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The site comprises over 10 illegal refineries with an estimated 500,000 litres of crude oil contained in about 50 illegally constructed reservoirs, while five suspects engaging in the illicit act were arrested.

The spokesman for the NSCDC, Rivers State Command, Olufemi Ayodele, disclosed this while parading the suspects and conducted newsmen around the site on Monday.

Ayodele said the discovery was based on credible intelligence.

He said, “The Commandant-General of the NSCDC, Dr Ahmed Audi, has reiterated over time that all acts of economic sabotage would be fought to a standstill as suspects arrested would face the full wrath of the law, irrespective of their sponsors.

“In furtherance, the CG gave a marching order to the Special Intelligence Squad, charging them to be more thorough and results-oriented in their operations

“Based on credible intelligence, the CG’s SIS swung into action and uncovered 10 illegal local refineries in a forest located at Odagwa Community in Etche LGA of Rivers State where five suspects were caught in the act of illegally refining of crude oil.

“While conducting an operational tour across the large thick forest, about 10 different cooking pots of 50,000 litres capacity were seen with one big pumping machine, receiver tanks, 25 rubber hoses used for pumping crude oil and many long galvanised pipes with unquantified litres of crude oil and illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) stored in six large reservoirs and other 20 smaller reservoirs drugged in the ground.”

The suspects include Favour Chukwu, 29; Desmond Umeh. 25; Godwin Amos, 22; Bineace Galion, 38; and Goodnews David, 23.

The five arrested suspects

While noting that further investigation is ongoing, the state NSCDC spokesman said the suspects would face prosecution.

Meanwhile, the Commandant of the NSCDC, Rivers State Command, Basil Igwebueze, has condemned what he termed the ‘’unrepentant’’ act by these ‘’unscrupulous elements’’ who tapped into the Oil Well Head of Heirs Energies Limited and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited located around Imo River 2 Oil and Gas field at Odagwa in Etche.

Igwebueze said through different channels, the criminals inserted their galvanised pipes and siphoned crude oil while processing the same within the premises without recourse.

He emphasised that the site would be destroyed to ensure the perpetrators don’t return there to continue the illicit business.

“The uncovering of this massive illegal oil bunkering site is a landmark achievement and an indication that the NSCDC, as the lead agency in the protection of all critical national assets and infrastructure, will continue to combat crude oil theft with a renewed vigour even as we work in synergy with sisters security agencies to salvage the nation’s economy from saboteurs,” Igwebueze said.

He added that a “thorough investigation has commenced to unravel those behind the scene while all suspects arrested in connection with this act of vandalism and crude oil theft would be charged to a court of competent jurisdiction and their sponsors or cartels would be trailed and brought to book without compromise. ”

Our correspondent reports that several pipes were connected to tapping points with high-pressure crude oil flowing therein, while a crude-laden abandoned wellhead was destroyed by the miscreants.