Rivers LG chairs destroy illegal artisanal refineries

Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt

Chairpersons of local governments in Rivers have intensified battle against soot menance with raid and destruction of illegal artisanal refiners in some parts of the state.

In Obio-Akpor Local Government Council, George Ariolu, the chairman and some of his officers have uncovered facilities being used for illegal refining and storage of refined products around Ogbogoro and Eligbam communities of the Council.

Ariolu restated that the battle against soot menace is a battle for everyone and not for government alone to tackle, adding that it is a problem for all considering the environmental and health hazard associated with it.

He told journalists at Ogbogoro waterfront that all hands must be on deck in order to combat the menace of black soot in the State.

There was mild drama and altercation between the Police and officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, at site of one the depots, Obio-Akpor local government in presence of LGA boss.

The Chairman later accused some security personnel of aiding and abetting culprits involved in the pollution of the environment through their collaboration.

Ariolu advised the public to align with government and security agencies by relaying relevant information that will aid the arrest culprits, as he described the Ogbogoro Waterfront (former Crushrock) as a major depot for the storage of illegally refined petroleum products in the State.

The Chairman who also found an illegal refined petroleum products dump yard at Rumuolumeni Community (Mgboduohia and Minikpete), condemned the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps for their compromise in the fight against illegality.

He called on the State Government to seal, investigate and arraign owners of facilities used to perpetrate such heinous crimes in the society.

Speaking at a radio programme with Raypower 106.5 fm, the Chairman debunked rumours that the fight against illegal refinery operators in the state is political motivated and targeted at a particular sect and tribe in Rivers State.

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In the same vein, the Chairman of Etche Local Government Area, Obinna Anyanwu and his team also discovered and dismantled two oil bunkering dump sites located at Akwa and Odagwa waterfronts boundaries between Rivers and Abia States.

Anyanwu was accompanied by security operatives and members of the Etche Local Government TaskForce/Oil Bunkering to the illegal oil dump sites.

Speaking to Journalists shortly after the raid, the Etche Council Chairman assured that his administration will continue to rid the area off illegal crude oil refiners to ensure safety and healthy environment for the people.

The Etche Council Chairman directed the committee in-charge of oil bunkering to collaborate with the security agencies in fishing out anyone who might be involved in illegal oil refining, including those using Etche as a route to transport their illegal refined products to neighboring states.

Anyanwu who expressed concern over the harmful blanket of black soot across the skyline in Rivers caused by illegal crude oil refining, pledged his full support to Governor Wike’s drastic measures in seeking an end to the soot menace.

Likewise in Eleme local government area an enforcement team was led by the Chairman, Obarilormate Ollor in company of security personnel, Eleme Youth Coordinator, Prince N. Okereke,the Chief Security Officer, Brain Gokpa, Special Assistant to the Executive Chairman on illegal bunkering and artisanal mining Mr Chika Alale Oluji stormed some illegal Bunkering sites.

Our Correspondent reports that seven refining points as well as two fully loaded oil badges were discovered and destroyed.

However,beside depots, no illegal refining sites were found at the time of the operation and no arrests have been made.

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