OPERATIVES of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps have destroyed 12 illegal refineries in Amambo Kiri community in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The operatives also arrested two suspects involved in pipeline vandalism in one of the areas where some of the illegal refineries were located.
Parading the suspects on Friday at the NSCDC command in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Commandant of the Corps, Mr. Mohammed Haruna, said most of the oil thieves, who saw his men advancing to the illegal refining points, took to their heels.
Haruna, who identified the suspects as Kingley Mena and Awari Mena, expressed dissatisfaction with communities supporting the activities of oil thieves in the state and warned that those shielding criminals would not be spared by NSCDC.
He observed that illegal oil bunkerers had started to use gas to refine stolen crude oil, adding that the outcry over the pollution of the environment could have informed their action.
The Commandant noted that apart the illegal refineries that were destroyed, some installations in the bush were set ablaze by the corps operatives.
“Some Community members are in the habit of shielding oil thieves. NSCDC will not tolerate that and will arrest and bring to book those harbouring criminals.
“As we keep telling them about the issue of bunkering in Rivers State, the state and federal governments both have good programmes that can sustain anybody in his community. The best thing for them is to key into these government policies.
“This is necessary to ensure that they leave the creeks so that they can be integrated into the society. Pipeline vandalism does not help anybody. As long as they are in the creeks and vandalising pipelines, they will be caught. Those who are not caught will be caught one day,” Haruna warned.
He said the two suspects would be prosecuted and if found wanting at the end of investigation, adding that his aim was to reduce incidents of oil theft in the state to a bearable level.
He said, “On the two suspects that were arrested, what we will do now is to carry out further investigation and charge them to court. We intend to reduce illegal oil bunkering to the minimum level in no distant time.”
Haruna cautioned that those who believed that Rivers State would be a haven for oil bunkering should begin to have a rethink, maintaining that sponsors of such illicit business would be dealt with no matter how highly placed they might be in the society.