The Nigeria Navy (NN) says its combat forces have destroyed over 100 illegally operated refineries in the creeks and waterways in the Niger Delta following the launching of “Exercise Toru-Gbown” (Waterways Protection).
According to Commodore Felix Esekhile, Commander, NNS Soroh, Yenagoa during the four-day exercise, the Navy destroyed the established illegal refinery camps and new ones using a swamp buggy.
Esekhile, who led one of the operations at Okarki, a border town between Bayelsa and Rivers, revealed that the Navy had destroyed that particular area five times this year.
He said the fight against pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft had been intensified following the purchase of equipment, such as speedboats, acquired by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas.
He warned persons involved in the illegal business to move out of the command’s area of responsibility as the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, had directed that all the illegal refineries be flushed out.
Commodore Esekhile said the Navy also discovered massive production of illegal fuel in Oluasiri and destroyed hundreds of crude oil cooking drums in the area.
The Chief Staff Officer (CSO), Central Naval Command, Commodore Joseph Akpan, on his part said the exercise was to consolidate on previous operations.
“This is a swamp buggy operation in our push against oil theft and other forms of illegalities involving crude and refined products.
“We have recorded some successes and just like the FOC said during the inauguration of this operation in Warri, this is also to test the combat-readiness of specific bases under the AoR of the Central Naval Command.
“You can see that we have destroyed this same area before and all the attempts they are making to reconstruct them.
“This is to send a signal that the command will not relent in our efforts to put everything available, including intelligence, to make sure that these illegal refineries are not revitalized,” Akpan said.
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