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Navy destroys 50 illegal refineries, arrests 80 boats, others …

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Navy destroys 50 illegal refineries, arrests 80 boats, others …

Navy destroys 50 illegal refineries, arrests 80 boats, others …

Appeals for speedy prosecution of suspects Precious

In continuation of its war against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta, the Nigerian Navy (NN) on Tuesday said over 50 illegal refineries have been destroyed in the past 32 days around Yeye, Burutu and Ibafa creeks in Delta State.

This is just as operatives attached to the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) DELTA also arrested six ships- MT AYSU, MY INTERIM, MV MAMA ELIZABETH, MT MIRACLE, MV NIPAL and SD WATERMAN- and 80 wooden boats used by criminal elements for alleged illegal bunkering of petroleum products siphoned from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines and crude oil well heads in six months.

These disclosures were made by the Commander NNS DELTA Commodore Ibrahim Dewu during an educational tour by select journalists to some NN operational bases in the Niger Delta.

The Nation reports that Defence Correspondents picked from Lagos and Abuja were taken into the creeks around Warri where these criminal elements operate a massive well coordinated but crude distillation processes. Our correspondent observed scores of 10,000 litre metal tanks in one of the camps located at Benett Island spanning across about seven acres of land.
The destruction of the illegal refineries were being done with the use of swam buggies, an excavator used in swampy areas to crush metallic substances and render them unusable, thereby avoiding further pollution of the land and surrounding water.

It was gathered that the navy had identified over 900 illegal refinery camps within NNS DELTA’s area of operation (AOO) with the bulk of it located around Ughelli and Warri South.

According to Commodore Dewu, several persons have been arrested for various maritime offences and handed over to prosecutorial agencies, while the vessels were being kept in trust for the agencies in line with the Harmonised Standard Operation Procedure (HSOP).

Lamenting the delays in prosecuting the cases, the Commander noted that it was costing the NN so much money to maintain the vessels to avoid their going aground.

He said some of the vessels have been in the jetty for up to seven years, while the recovered 185 outboard engines, hoses and other equipment recovered from the suspects or sites were littering the base.

He appealed to the judiciary and prosecution agencies to fast-track the trials to save the service the cost of maintaining, securing the vessels and other exhibits the prosecution agencies do not have facilities to keep.

Commodore Dewu said the cases of more than six ships apprehended by his command over alleged stolen oil in the last six months were yet to be resolved in courts, adding that the criminals were being emboldened as a result of the slow pace of justice.

“Suspects should be tried almost immediately and judgement delivered. Some of these arrested vessels you see here have been handed over to prosecutorial agencies about six or seven years ago. The cases are still in court.

“The navy has handed over to the agencies that prosecute but because these agencies do not have the facilities to keep these ships, we keep them in our jetty in trust for them while they prosecute the cases.

“We have to deploy men on the vessels and maintain them because we do not want regress. There is need for these cases to be concluded early to spare us these costs and also free the jetty for seagoing vessels.

He appealed to the judiciary and prosecution agencies to fast-track the trials to save the service the cost of maintaining, securing the vessels and other exhibits the prosecution agencies do not have facilities to keep.

Commodore Dewu said the cases of more than six ships apprehended by his command over alleged stolen oil in the last six months were yet to be resolved in courts, adding that the criminals were being emboldened as a result of the slow pace of justice.

“Suspects should be tried almost immediately and judgement delivered. Some of these arrested vessels you see here have been handed over to prosecutorial agencies about six or seven years ago. The cases are still in court.

“The navy has handed over to the agencies that prosecute but because these agencies do not have the facilities to keep these ships, we keep them in our jetty in trust for them while they prosecute the cases.

“We have to deploy men on the vessels and maintain them because we do not want regress. There is need for these cases to be concluded early to spare us these costs and also free the jetty for seagoing vessels.

“The Navy spend huge amount of money in maintaining the seized ships. When they are taking in water, we send divers to patch them up so that they won’t go aground… Some of the vessels have been arrested since 2007.”

Commodore Dewu said the base had adopted constant and effective surveillance of the hinterland from both land and air with a view to adequately combing the terrains.

Director Naval Information Commodore Suleiman Dahun who led the tour delegation said the exercise was to expose journalists to some of the daily routines of the navy and the terrain its personnel work in.

Noting that the armed forces were being funded by tax payers, he said the navy understands the need to make the Nigerian people understand the complexities of what the service does towards security and safety in the maritime domain and on land.

Commodore Dahun said the navy would not relent in its quest to dislodge those robbing the nation of resources, adding that the syndicates were now migrating to land because the sea was no longer safe for them.

“We are also pursuing them to the creeks and land. You can see that for yourselves. So, there is need for sustained enlightenment campaigns on issues of crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal refineries,” he said.

Precious Igbonwelundu

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