The Abia Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has destroyed eight illegal modular refineries in the oil-bearing Ukwa West Local Government Area.
The State Commandant of the corps, Mr Ayinla Olowo, told newsmen in his office in Umuahia on that the feat was achieved following the sustained efforts by the command to rid the state of illegal dealings in petroleum products.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that this was coming barely two weeks the command destroyed 10 of similar facilities in the same area.
Olowo said that the illegal refineries were destroyed by operatives of the Anti-vandal Unit of the command, codenamed “Operation Sting”.
“The anti-vandal unit carried out an operation in Ukwa West on Feb. 5, to get rid of operators of illegal refineries in the area.
“The operatives destroyed eight illegal refineries and disconnected all the pipes with which they siphoned products from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation’s pipelines.
“By this act, we have succeeded in stopping their activities in the area,” Olowo said.
He described the activities of illegal petroleum refiners as economic sabotage, saying that “their activities are having negative impact on the nation’s economic prosperity.
“This is why we have intensified our efforts to crack down on the operators.
“We cannot allow a few criminal elements to continue to destroy our national asset and source of revenue,” he added.
The state NSCDC boss expressd dismay that the command had yet to make any arrests and blamed the development on the antics of the illegal operators.
According to him, they usually keep people at strategic points in the forest to monitor the environment and alert them whenever there is any movement.
“So any time we carry out an operation, the moment we arrive at the forest, they will all disappear,” he said.
Olowo said that his next target was to uncover the root of the criminal act and those behind it and that the command would partner other sister security agencies in the state to tackle the menace.
He, however, said that such a collaboration would require the profiling of operatives from other agencies that would form part of a combined operation against the crime.
He expressed delight with the cooperation the command was getting from the Ukwa West communities.
“The locals are so happy with what we are doing and have been volunteering useful information to us.
“I have assured them that every information given to us will be treated with utmost confidentiality.”
Olowo also expressed joy that the Commandant-General of the corps, Mr Ahmed Audi, had promised to support the command with vehicles and other logistics that would help us fight the crime.
“Once we have the vehicles to get into the forest, then the issue of illegal petrol refineries and other illegal dealings in petroleum products will become a thing of the past,” he said.
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