BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT – Nigerian Navy has destroyed 40 illegal refineries in its Operation River sweep in the Niger Delta.
Flag Officer, Commanding Eastern Naval Command, FOC,Rear Admiral James Oluwole disclosed this yesterday at the NNS Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, saying that the Operation River Sweep lasted 28 days.
He said swamp buggy was used to mangle the refineries during the operation, adding that it was to ensure the operators did not have facilities to resume the illicit operations.
The FOC, Rear Admiral Oluwole said two vessels loaded with 5,240,000 illegal diesel (AGO) were also arrested , adding that four speed boats used by the oil thieves were destroyed.
“In the last 28 days the participating units arrested 3 vessels engaged in various maritime crimes. Also 40 illegal refineries , 60 large wooden boats each with capacity for 5,240,000 litres of illegal refined AGO and 4 speed boats were destroyed”, he said.
Continuing, Rear Admiral Oluwole estimated the total value of the illegal crude and other facilities at the refineries destroyed at 3 billion naira.
He said the River sweep operation also rid the waterways of sea pirates and other criminal elements, adding that the operation had taken off in the Central Naval Command and would extend to the Western Naval command.
Rear Admiral Oluwole said during the operation River sweep in states under his command five suspected oil thieves were arrested, noting that they would be handed over to the appropriate agency for prosecution.
“The resultant effect is the drastic reduction in cases of sea robbery, pipeline vandalism and operations of illegal oil refineries. Illegal bunkering activities have also been reduced to the lowest minimum within the area of operation “, he said.
Rear Admiral Oluwole said a naval helicopter, NNS Ologbo, NNS Burutu, speed boats were among hardware used for the operation.