Army Destroys 93 Illegal Refineries, Arrest 29 Suspects

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Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

As part of its campaign to contain sea piracy and oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region, the Nigerian Army said yesterday it destroyed 93 illegal refineries in the Niger Delta region.

In the course of its anti-illegal and sea piracy operations, 29 sea robbers and illegal oil bunkerers were also arrested while 80 trucks were detained.

A statement issued by the army Spokesman, Col. Sagir Musa, said the interdiction was made by troops of the 6 Division of the Niger Army following intensified operations that tightened the noose on “economic saboteurs and sea pirates, which led to an increase in oil production by multinational oil companies as indicated in their reports”.

Musa said the operations were carried out in Rivers and Bayelsa states between April 16 and May 29, 2019.

“In line with the constitutional mandate of the Nigerian Army (NA) to curb economic sabotage and associated insecurities across Nigeria, troops of 6 Division have intensified coordinated anti-illegal oil bunkering and sea piracy operations within the Division’s Area of Responsibility (AOR).

“A look at the anti-illegal oil bunkering and anti-sea piracy operations conducted across the Division’s AOR between 16 April and May 26, 2019 indicated that troops of 16 Brigade (Bde) successfully conducted many anti-illegal oil bunkering operations within Asitobo/Tumbo Creek,” he said.

The operations also covered “Ukparatobu in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area (LGA) of Bayelsa State, Obiafu in ONLGA, Ubeta, Oyakama and Obodi in Ahoada West LGA of Rivers State, Ebelebiri in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State and Ogbotobo in Ekeremor LGA of Bayelsa State”.

During the operations, he said, 46 illegal oil refining sites were located and destroyed along with 85 sacks/cellophane bags, 10 drums and four Cotonou boats all containing illegally refined products

The Army Spokesman said additional 10 suspects were arrested while two motorcycles and 10 mobile phones were recovered. The vigilant troops also arrested three suspected sea robbers at Foropa in Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State on April 26, 2019 with one locally made gun and three live cartridges.

He said all suspects and exhibits have since been handed over to relevant authorities for prosecution.