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Army destroys illegal refineries in Rivers, Abia

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Troops of two divisions of the Nigerian Army have uncovered and destroyed a massive illegal refinery in Okoloma, Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State and Umuahale area in Ukwa West LGA of Abia State.

The discovery of the refineries was made during an operational visit led by the General Officers Commanding, 6 Division, Major General Jamal Abdussalam and his counterpart in the 82 Division, Major General Hassan Dada.

This was contained in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Thursday by the Acting Deputy Director, 6 Division Army Public Relations, Lieutenant Colonel Jonah Danjuma and sent to newsmen.

The statement said the raid was part of efforts by the Army to put an end to the menace of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta and South East regions of the country.

The statement reads, “The General Officers Commanding 6 and 82 Divisions, Nigerian Army Major General Jamal Abdussalam and Major General Hassan Dada, jointly paid an operational visit to the illegal oil bunkering empire located at Okoloma, Oyigbo Local Government Area and Umuahale area in Ukwa West LGA in Rivers and Abia States respectively.

“The locations are at the fringes of the Imo River, where the two Divisions are jointly conducting clearance operations from Rivers and Abia States.

“The visit was essentially to have an on-the-spot assessment of the illegality perpetrated by criminals and economic saboteurs as well as boost troops’ morale for a job well done. It was a follow-up to the earlier raid on one of the camps last week by troops of the 6 Division.

“While at the fringes of the Imo River, deep into the thickly forested areas, the GOCs were conducted through a tour by the Commander, 6 Division Garrison, Brigadier General Edet Effiong and Commander 14 Brigade, Brigadier General Olusola Diya.

“They saw the hub of illegal oil bunkering, shrouded with cooking pots, boilers, surface reservoirs and huge quantities of illegal products in dug-in reservoirs carefully concealed, under the thick forest with interconnected pipes spanning several kilometers.

“The crime scene points to the fact that it is an organized crime that has been running for a long period, owing to the huge investment made to sabotage the national economy.

“The GOCs who jointly addressed the troops charged them to ensure that all illegal bunkering sites are destroyed.

“They also re-echoed President Bola Tinubu’s directive on zero tolerance for illegal oil bunkering, charging troops to sustain the operational tempo against this mindless criminality.”

The GOCs, the statement continued, said if the illicit activity is allowed to continue, it will affect the Nigerian economy gravely.

“Additionally, it is believed that the proceeds from these illegalities are used to fund other crimes.

“Therefore, all hands must be on deck to deny the enemies of the state freedom of action and ensure that these streams of funding are completely dismantled.”

PUNCH Online reports that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited said it has in the past weeks uncovered no fewer than 83 illegal refineries in the Niger Delta.

The NNPCL disclosed this on its X handle, adding that 15 illegal pipeline connections were also discovered within the same period.

“In the past week, 15 illegal pipeline connections and 83 illegal refineries have been uncovered in the Niger Delta,” the NNPCL said.

According to a video shared with the post, it was disclosed that between January 6 and 12, a total of 211 incidents of oil theft and vandalism were reported.

Seven cases of vandalism were recorded including a wellhead in the Umuajuloke community in Rivers State.

In Owerri, it was said that an active wellhead was found with several illegal connections.

It was also learnt that nine cases of oil spills were recorded in the week, mostly caused by vandalism, adding that Ogboinbiri in Bayelsa State has been ruined by oil spills.

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