17 April 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — A Port Harcourt based Environmentalist, Mr. Meshack Uyi has indicted the security agencies, federal environmental and petroleum regulatory agencies for the hydrocarbon soot plaguing Rivers State.
Uyi alleged that as a result of the wide profit margins for the security agencies in illegal refineries which causes soot, they (security agencies) have refused to cooperate with the Rivers State Government.
Speaking with journalists in Port Harcourt, Uyi also alleged that the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, has failed in her duty of checking the excesses of the multinationals and refinery operators.
He noted that the Rivers State Government has taken measures to check the soot within the limits approved for it by extant laws.
According to him, “Those who are saddled with the onerous responsibility of policing the pipelines and ensuring that crude is not tampered with, are the ones operating these illegal refineries.
“The security agencies in Rivers State in unmistakable terms, are the owners of the illegal refineries we see in Rivers State and around the creeks of the Niger Delta. The security agencies are so deeply involved to the extent there is no incentive for them to stop illegal refineries. They are profiting from them.
“They will never pull down their own business. They are eating from the illegal refineries. Unfortunately, they don’t even stay in Port Harcourt, that is why they have refused to police the pipelines.
“You ask yourself, what has happened to the surveillance contracts? Why are the pipelines not being policed? What is the source of the crude for the illegal refineries?
“Illegal refinery operators are not the producers of crude. They only tap from existing sources and their suppliers. Stop the sources of crude and the illegal refineries will disappear. Flood the market with kerosene and illegal refineries will reduce to zero,” he said.
On the protests and #StoptheSoot hashtag, Uyi said the focus should be on the Federal Government and her agencies who have neglected their constitutional responsibilities on the environment.
He said that it is mischievous to focus on Rivers State Government that has a limited role to play, noting that the action of protesters on the soot creates the impression that they are sponsored to promote certain interests.
Meanwhile, when contacted on the telephone, the Media Director of the Joint Task Force operating in the Niger Delta region, Operation Delta Safe, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said the allegations were laughable as the JTF cannot go against its mandate.
Abdullahi told our correspondent that the mandate of the JTF in the Niger Delta was clear and unambiguous, hence his job is not to join issues with anybody.
According to him, “What the JTF is doing is exactly what is in our mandate, no more, no less.
“Our mandate is to protect oil and gas infrastructure and deter/prevent militancy, sea robbery, crude oil theft and other forms of criminality within the joint operations area, and that is what we are doing.”