Troops arrest 5 suspected illegal refinery operators in Rivers

File photo: Some soldiers at work

Troops of  the  Nigerian Army have   arrested 5 suspects for  allegedly  involved  in  illegal refining of crude oil stolen from pipelines in Odagwa community in Etche area of Rivers.

Maj.-Gen. Jamal Abdussalam, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, told journalists  on Wednesday in Port Harcourt.

Abdussalam was represented by  Lt-Col. Ishaya Manga,Commanding Officer of 29 Battalion under the division.

He said that the  suspects were arrested  engaging in illegal bunkering of petroleum product at the refinery site.

“The arrest  followed credible intelligence on the activities of illegal bunkerers  in the area, who are bent  on sabotaging the nation’s economy.

“In response, troops were deployed to identify, locate and destroy all illegal refineries within the division’s area of responsibility.

“Upon arriving at  the site, our troops uncovered hand dug reservoirs used for storing of stolen crude oil.

“It is regrettable that this economic sabotage against the Federal Government is having negative impact on socio-economic activities and the health of citizens,” he said.

Abdussalam said that troops also seized about 225,000 litres of crude oil from the site.

“About 45,000 litres of stolen crude oil were found in five different reservoirs, while many others were empty.

“Troops also discovered several metallic pots used for cooking and refining crude oil into petroleum products at various locations in the area.

“The operation is ongoing and we are optimistic of making further discoveries,” he added.

He expressed concern about the destruction of vegetation and environmental degradation in the community.

The army chief pledged that those responsible for these heinous crimes would be brought to justice.

“We commend the local population for providing credible intelligence that aided us in discovering this illegal refinery in the deep Etche forest.

“It’s hard to believe that something like this is taking place here. Even drones would struggle to capture everything that is happening here due to the tense vegetation.

“The  suspects will face prosecution for their crimes against the country,” he said.

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