The Joint Task Force on the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Restore yesterday destroyed over one thousand illegal refinery sites in the outskirts of Odiekhe community in the Ahoada West local government area of Rivers State.
Three large wooden boats referred to as “Cotonou boat” by the locals laden with crude oil were also intercepted with four persons nabbed by the security operatives.
The operation rid Odiekhe community of illegal refineries which lasted about six hours was launched in the early hours of the day by men of the 5 Battalion of the Joint Task Force led the Commanding Officer, Ibrahim Jafaru and backed by MI-35 helicopter gunship.
One of the youths arrested identified himself as Peter Akpu an indigene of Afikpo North in Ebonyi State.
Two others, Friday Okirikeke (25) and Elo James, claimed to be from Isoko in Delta while another claimed to be from Abua community in Rivers State.
However Peter Akpu, aged 26, revealed that they were mere labourers and employed by a woman he identified as Madam Monica.
Akpu said “the refined product from here at Camp 1 and 2 are sold for N1,000 per 25 litres as against outside N2,500.”
Another suspect said the crude oil being refined at the illegal sites are procured from NNPC pipeline route along the Oluasiri creeks of Rivers State.
“After we load, we bring it to camp and cook (refine) it. We have many customers,”he said.
Speaking on the ongoing operation against illegal oil bunkering, the Media Coordinator of the JTF, Lt Col. Timothy Antigha said the operation against illegal sites will be sustained.
He added that a proposal will be forwarded to military command for the occupation of the destroyed sites.
“The operation is part of our mandate in the Niger Delta and we are out to end the proliferation of illegal refineries,” he said.
He noted that the JTF had stormed the illegal sites in March, “four months after, we gathered intelligence report that they are back. We will continue storming the illegal sites until they go out of business.”