”Sponsors Of Illegal Bunkering And Refining Plants Are Prominent Businessmen”-Wike

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

The greedy oil dealers in the oil-rich rivers state will not under understand how their business empire of owning several artisanal refineries crumbled like a pack of wood overnight. For much of last year, Nyesom Wike, a former minister of Education during Goodluck Jonathan Administration and incidentally a one-time Chairman of Obiakpo-Local Government, had kept a close watch about the activities of the illegal refineries owners in Rivers. It was a matter of time for him to strike on them.

The governor may have known that there is no way he can win the battle of dislodging the Illegal bunkerers and refinery owners in the state. Alone locate all the illegal refinery sites without carrying the 23 Local government Chairman, along.

 Some of the Council Chairmen are believed to be on the pay roll of the sponsors of the illegal refineries. As a prelude to getting the Council Chairmen involved, in destroying   the illegal refineries found in their locality in order to make the rivers environment safe, he had a closed door meeting with them where he had promised to reward any Council Chairman who supports the government efforts to destroy illegal refinery sites found in their locality. The governor may have gladdened the heart of the Council bosses, when he announced provision of a N460 million as reward for the23 Council Chairmen, meaning that each of them has a share of N20 million if he or she performs to expectation.

Wike: Action Governor Of Rivers State

With the cash reward of N20 million each to the Council Chairmen, may have encouraged them to hire bulldozers and destroy illegal crude oil bunkering and artisanal refinery found in their locality. The governor who has the backing of the Friday Eboka, the state Commissioner of Police, in the battle to clean up the Rivers environment may have known that there is no way there would be a major headway in destroying the illegal refineries with the Commander of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC,  still in the state  as he has proved incapable of controlling the service personnel who are benefiing from the racket.

This may have informed  Abubakar  Audi, Commandant General, of the NSCDC,  did not hesitate in disbanding the Anti-Vandal Unit  of the state Command. In doing so, the NSCDC,  boss had alluded to the fact  that Wike, the Rivers  state governor  had accused’’ the Team  of aiding  and abetting  pipeline vandals  and illegal bunkerers to carry out thei rnefarious activities I the state’’.

The NSCDC helmsman, who could not hide his feelings had said that  ‘’the extant rules  and Regulations  guiding its  operations  and the general ethics  of the service requires  complete display  of total discipline , integrity and corruptibility, transparency and accountability in the part of every Corps personnel’’ , also informed the reason for his action.

The NCDC Commandant had gladdened the heart of the Rivers  governor when  he’’ assured him of ‘’getting to the root of the matter  without further delay and promising   more synergy  with the state government  towards discharging more effective service delivery to the people of the state’’.

Given the bad Advertisement of the former Commander of the Anti-Vandal Unit , and his Team in the state,  the Commandant  had  reiterated that his Administration  ‘’has come with renewed vigour  to reposition the service  in line with best global  best practices and will not condone any  act of indiscipline,  compromise, sabotage under any guise  by any personnel no matter how highly placed’’.

Audi: Commandant, NSCDC

Many had expected   Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and the Eboka, the state CP,  to take a cue from the Commandant , NSCDC, who had disbanded the Anti-Vandal Unit of the service at the prompting of the governor, to also  redeploy  the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, of Emoha  LGG,  accused by the governor   of being involved  in the illegal  activities in the Emoha LGA.

With the total clean- up of the NSCDC Anti-Vandal Unit in the state and appointment of a new Commander, many knew that the sponsors of the illegal refineries in the state are in trouble. Barely one week after the governor had asked the Force  ‘’to Collaborate  with   Heads  of other Security Agencies  in the state , Council Chairmen and Traditional Rulers to fish out those involved in illegal bunkering in their locality  some illegal refinery discoveries were said to have been made.

, one or two of the Council Chairmen, were said to have  come up to the  governor  to brief him about the discoveries in their locality.  The Council Chairmen were said to have discovered 112 illegal refineries.  One of them was  Samuel Nwanosike, Chairman of Ikwrre, home Local government of Rotimi of Rotimi Amaechi, a for governor of River and minister of Transportation under the present Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General. Another person was the Chairman of Emohua, LGA.

The governor may have shocked Nigerians when he revealed that 99% of the discoveries were made in a particular Community located along the OML 17 Trunk Lines allegedly in EmuohUa LGA, described as a home of the Greedy bunkering and refinig plants sponsours .  Appealing to other Council Chairmen who were from the riverine Areas, to take a cue from their Counterparts in the Upland Council areas,he urged them  to go ahead and hire bulldozers  and to clear the  Creeks of the illegal bunkering activities in their locality  and apply to the state government for refund.  He was emphatic on the distribution of the N460 million provision : Each Council Chairman , at least have   N20 million, for a start  to hire the equipment to work.

A Typical Illegal Bunkering Site At Emohua LGA, Rivers State

Prior to the discoveries of more illegal bunkering and artisanal refineries in Ikwerre and Emuohua LGAs in the state,  the Rivers governor , accompanied by Eboka, the state CP,   and other security Chiefs in the state , had inspected  two illegal refining sites at the flashpoint Emoha LGA, that was discovered uncovered by the Chairman.

Informed sources told The Magazine that the Ikwerre Council Chairman, and his Emuohua Counterpart who hired bulldozers    as directed by the governor to destroy illegal refineries found in their locality have already applied for refund forcing others,who are yet to make any appreciable impact to intensify efforts in the search for illegal bunkering sites and artisanal refineries in their locality, in order to benefit also  from the fund.

It is interesting to note that many of the big boys in PortHarcourt who own the illegal bunkering sites and artisanal refineries in the state were said to be on the run to avoid playing into the hands of the security operatves, who are said to be everywhere in the state. Already, the governor has ordered the arrest   of those allegedly    sponsoring the operation of the illegal refining in the state, some of them were said to be prominent  businessmen  in the Niger Delta state.

The manhunt for the sponsors of the illegal refineries in Rivers state may have forced the troops of Operation Delta Safe into action. In the last one month, the troops were said to have discovered and destroyed  39 illegal refining  sites , 91 cooking ovens, 24 reservoirs, 17 large  dugpot units  and 36 storage tanks in the region. 

 Bernard Onyeuko, an Army  Major General  and Director, Defence Media Operations,  had said that  a total  of 637,500 litres  of stlen crude oil  was recovered  in the course of the operations  in some  villages and towns in Emohua, Ikwerre, PortHarcourt, Opobo, and  Ahoada Councils  of Rivers state alone.

 Other locations are some towns and villages in Warri South, Warri South-West, and Warri North Councils of Delta state including Southern Ijaw, of Bayelsa state.  The troops operations in Mbo LGA, of Akwa Ibom, home state of Godswell Akpbabio, former governor of Akwa Ibom state and now   minister of the Niger Delta and Ukwa West in Abia state wwere said to have also yielded results within the period during the operations.

Recall that last December, the Operation Delta Safe troops, had discovered and destroyed 69 illegal refining sites in different parts of the Niger Delta region. According to Onyeuko,  the Director,Defence Headquarters, Media Informations,  the sites were laden with 2.1  million  litres  of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil, AGO,  as well as  1.300 tons   and 4.5 million barrels of  stolen crude oil, awitingtobe refined trough the crude process . 

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