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Niger Delta: Committee on Recovery of Illegal Oil refineries inaugurated

*security operatives, federal ministries, NNPC, DPR and NOSDRA make up committee

An Inter-Ministerial Committee to tackle the illegal refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta region of the country has been inaugurated.

Members of the committee were drawn from the Ministry of Defence, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, DHQ, the NSCDC, the NNPC. the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Environment, the Department of Petroleum Resources, and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency.

They are tasked with the major mandate of “the recovery of illegally refined petroleum products (crude oil) in the dug-up pits found around the creeks of the Niger Delta”.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), who inaugurated the committee said the move was to block revenue leakages.

He was represented by the Solicitor General of the Federation (SGF) and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Umar Muhammed.

Mr. Muhammed said, “In line with the policy of the current administration on security and economy, as well as the preservation of the environment from negative hazards, the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, in collaboration with all stakeholders, have put in place a mechanism for effective and efficient management of illegally refined products recovered from dug-up pits found around the creeks of the Niger Delta.

This mechanism was agreed by the relevant stakeholders and submitted to the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation who considered and approved the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the purpose of implementing the Mechanism known as Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) For the Recovery of Illegally Refined Petroleum Products (Crude Oil) in the Dug-Up Pit found around the creeks of the Niger Delta”.

He added that the Federal Ministry of Justice would coordinate the process and the Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.

“The responsibility of the Inter-Ministerial Committee is to detect, report, evacuate, assess and ensure transparent disposal of the product with due consideration to the environment.

The Inter-Ministerial Committee shall be guided by the SOP, developed for the project.”

The content of the SOP is drawn from the provision of the Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019.

“It is my hope that the proceeds from this exercise will be a source of additional revenue for the country”, the SGF added.

Oil theft: Navy hands over suspects, seven boats to JTF

The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta, on Friday handed six suspected oil thieves and seven loaded Cotonou boats over to the headquarters of the Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) for further investigations and prosecution.

According to the Nation, the Commander of the NNS Delta, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, while detailing the handing over exercise to journalists at the NNS Delta’s base in Warri, said that the suspects were arrested with products suspected to be illegally refined diesel, also known as AGO of an estimated quantity of 540,000 liters.

Commodore Dewu, who was represented by the Executive Officer (XO) of the NNSDelta, Navy Captain Adeyemi Adewuyi, said the suspects were arrested on Wednesday, 6th of March, 2019 and that the product was said to have been procured from Opudebubo Creek in Warri South-West council area of Delta state.

He seriously cautioned those involved in illegal activities in the maritime environment with the NNS Delta’s area of responsibility (AOR) to desist or face the law as the Nigerian Navy would not relent in its efforts to make the Niger Delta safe and fit for legitimate activities.

“This morning we are handing over seven Cotonou boats that were arrested on the 6th of March to appropriate security agencies. The boats were arrested at Opudebubo Creek in Warri South-West council area of Delta state. According to the suspects, they came all the way from Igbokoda in Ondo state to buy the products from the creek. They said they were taking the product to Igbonla in Okitipupa in the Igbokoda area of Ondo state.

“The quantity is estimated at 540,000 liters of AGO, illegally refined. We managed to arrest six suspects. The original number of the Cotonou boats was 8, however, one of them sank at the point of arrest, due to leakage. Investigation is still on and that’s why we are handing them over to the appropriate prosecuting agency for all other facts to come out.

Six of the seven loaded Cotonou boats at the jetty of the NNS Delta on Friday.

“I want to use this opportunity to warn all the criminals like pipeline vandals, to desist from their nefarious ways. Nigerian Navy will not relent in her efforts to stamp out criminality in the creeks of the Niger Delta”, he said.

However, when asked for his team’s mission in the area where they were arrested, one of the suspects, who identified himself as Odusola Irewole said he was a first timer in the illegal business, adding that he was pushed into it by lack of gainful employment.

“We came from Ondo state on the 6th of this month to buy diesel in Opudebubo Creek. I don’t know the seller because I’m just a worker in the boat. The owner of the business is Femi Jafo. He’s in Ondo state now. This is my first time because this boat is a new boat. I’m doing this job because there’s no job anywhere else, nothing to survive on. I didn’t know it was illegal, it is now that I’m getting to know”, the suspect said.

Niger Delta: Navy destroys 1,000 illegal refineries in creeks

The Nigerian Navy Ship, DELTA, on Wednesday said it had destroyed over 1,000 illegal refineries with swamp buggies in the Delta creeks.

Speaking with newsmen in Warri, the Commander, NNS DELTA, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, said the illegal refineries were destroyed in the last 29 days in its ongoing raids.

He said the illegal refineries and the equipment were destroyed in Otumara, Ogbegugu, Okpuku creeks and Bennett Island with the aid of swamp buggies, amphibious vehicles used in traversing swamps.

“We decided to apply swamp buggies because they are more environmental friendly and make it difficult for the perpetrators to resuscitate the illicit businesses after crushing their facilities.

“So far the exercise has been successful and we will not rest on our oars until the illicit trade is completely eradicated in our maritime domain,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the navy had in the past relied heavily on the use of fire to destroy illegal refineries.

The commander said the use of swamp buggies would bring a lasting solution to the ongoing economic sabotage.

On Tuesday, the commander led some navy personnel and journalists to Bennett Island in Warri South Local Government Area of the state to monitor the operation.

He told newsmen that the oil thieves had adopted a new method to prevent his men from carrying out the operation.

“The perpetrators in Bennett Island set fire round the illegal refineries to prevent us and the swamp buggy from gaining access.

“However, we were able to find our way into the sites and crushed their equipment despite the thick smoke and rain.

“Since we started clamping down on the illegal refineries with the aid of swamp buggies, the perpetrators have been restless’’, the commander said.

Dewu said the saboteurs were already feeling the impact of the destruction.

“This might have generated the recent campaign for the removal of the Commander, Joint Task Force (JTF), code name “Operation Delta Safe,’’ Rear Adm. Suleiman Apochi, by the people.

“The campaign against JTF is a distraction; we will not be deterred,’’ he said.

He warned the saboteurs to desist from the illicit act or be made to face the full wrath of the law.