By Jimitota Onoyume
Port Harcourt— Personnel of Nigerian Navy have arrested 43 suspects alleged to be behind illegal oil bunkering on the Bonny waterways. While parading the suspects before newsmen, Commander of the Forward Ope-ration Base, FOB of the Navy in Bonny, Navy Captain Tanko Yakubu, said they were arrested aboard three vessels with 3.5 million litres of crude.
He said the Navy also smashed six illegal crude oil refining points at Karibama also in Bonny area. According to him, the refining points were discovered during a marine patrol of the area.
He explained that during the patrol, nine persons were arrested in connection with the illegal bunkering, while an 800-tonne barge containing crude oil, two water pumps, welding machine and a heavy duty generator were recovered.
He said: “The illegally-refined products result in economic and health disasters such as kero-sene explosions and vehicle breakdown, among others.
“In compliance with the directive of the Chief of Naval Staff, the sustained patrol by the FOB in recent times to check economic crimes and other nefarious activities around Bonny water-ways is yielding desired results.
“The base had conti-nued to ensure zero tole-rance to illegal activities and their perpetrators despite inadequate logistics. The illegal refining activities taking place in the creeks and environs are alarming. Many of the illegal refineries are raided regularly by FOB and Joint Task Force, JTF.
“The illegal activities had led to pipeline van-dalism, river and land pollution, environmental degradation, oil theft and loss of revenue to the Federal Government.”
According to him, two other vessels were arrested while shipping crude oil. He added that those arrested and the items recovered had been handed over to the Police for further investigation and prosecution.