…As Navy shuts down 500 illegal refineries in Niger Delta
By Samuel Oyadongha & Joseph Erunke
YENAGOA— AUTHORITIES of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Delta Safe, have said that their operatives have uncovered a local arms manufacturing hideout in Arhavwarien Kingdom, Ughelli South Local Government Area, Delta State, leading to the arrest of 18 suspects.
In a related development, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, yesterday, disclosed that about 500 illegal refineries were shut down in the Niger Delta in the last six months.
He said that illegal refineries operating at various locations in the creeks of the Niger Delta region were traced and shut down within the period, just as he commended the efforts of his men for the feat.
Ibas, who spoke in Abuja, while receiving the Managing Director of Nigerian Port Authority, Hajiya Hadiza Usman, who led her organisation’s top management team on a courtesy visit to the Naval Headquarters, Abuja, lauded naval personnel for their commitment to security and safety of the Nigerian maritime domain.
He said that the number of the refineries shutdown by his organisation was far more than what was recorded in the past two years.
He said, “What is happening is that once you focus on the activities of pirates and other criminals in the maritime sector, you see them run away and begin to struggle for survival in other areas. To some extent, we have been able to curtail them and their nefarious activities in the maritime sector.”
“In the last six months, we have been able to shut down about 500 illegal refineries and this is more than what has been achieved in the past two years.”
Meanwhile, briefing newsmen in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, where three of the key suspects were paraded, the JTF Commander of Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral, Apochi Suleiman said its operatives also arrested a wanted oil bunkering kingpin ‘Godspower’.
Commander of Sector Two Command of the Operation Delta Safe, Col Solomon Griema, who spoke on behalf of Rear Admiral Suleiman said: “Our troops over the weekend conducted successful raid operations on identified local arms manufacturing hideout in Arhavwarien Kingdom in Ughelli South, Delta State.”
He added that “during the operation three principal suspects, Messrs Isiyaku Uchuko, Ese James and Elvis Phillips were apprehended following a shootout with the suspects.
“Items recovered from the suspects include 13 short barrel local made guns, five double barrel local made guns, 10 locally made pistols, three live cartridges, one empty cartridge and two rounds of 7.62 millimetre special ammunition.”