Destruction of Illegal Refineries

The Nigerian Navy has revealed that over 50 illegal refineries situated in the Niger Delta area have been destroyed by its personnel in the last thirty-two days in a massive operation in which some select defense correspondents in Abuja and Lagos were embedded.

The operation which was focused on the areas of Yeye, Burutu and Ibafa creeks in Delta state saw the naval personnel attached to the Nigerian Navy ship NNS DELTA accosting six ships among which were MT AYSU, MY INTERIM, MV MAMA ELIZABETH, MT MIRACLE, MV NIPAL, and SD WATERMAN.

The Naval team also confiscated 85 wooden boats used by criminals elements for illegal oil bunkering usually tapped from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Pipelines as well as crude oil wellheads.

There seems no letting in the illegal operation of refining crude oil in the creeks of the Niger Delta as the operation conduction by the Navy reveals. Rather than decreasing the business seems to be in an upward swing with new distilling drums and tanks scattered all over areas such as Bent island and areas within Ughelli and Warri South local government suspected of habouring over 1000 Illegal refinery camps.

Naval Personnel Supervising the Destruction

The navy is now working to stop this illegal refinery camps from operating by the total destruction of their facilities and preventing them from discharging their products through intensive patrol and inspection of ships and boats in the area of operation of NNS DELTA.

Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, Commander of NNS DELTA, confirmed that several persons have been arrested and put in custody for various maritime offenses and have been released to the police and other prosecutorial agencies to face the law while the vessels are being kept in trust for the agencies in line with the Harmonised Standard Operation Procedure (HSOP).

The Commodore, however, complain about the delays in prosecuting the culprits lamenting that it is costing the Navy so much money and personnel to maintain and secure the vessels from being grounded. He revealed that some of the vessels have been in the jetty for up to seven years, while over 185 outboard engines, hoses and other equipment recovered from suspects or sites were littering the base.

Dewu cited the cases of about six ships arrested by the command over alleged stolen oil in the last six months that are yet to be resolved in courts, adding that the criminals were being encouraged because of the slow pace of justice.