*Demands Redeployment Of DPO, NSCDC Officer Fingered In Illegal Refinery Activities
Rivers State Governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike, has urged the State Police Commissioner, Eboka Friday, to redeploy out of the state a particular Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Emohua Local Government Area of the state who he alleged operates an illegal refinery in the area.
This is as the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Host Communities, Dumnamene Dekor, has commended Governor Wike for his proactive measures in tackling the activities of illegal refining of crude oil products popularly called ‘Kpo-fire’ in the state.
Governor Wike made the demand yesterday, at a meeting with the local government council chairmen and heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police, the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps at Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor frowned at security agencies for the role some of their personnel have played in aiding and providing cover to the operators of the illegal refineries in the state.
He said: “It’s unfortunate for this country how security people will be involved in illegal bunkering. I can’t believe it. Mr. CP, I thank you for transferring the DPO in Rumuji, who owns a refinery. But the man must leave here, not transferred. He must leave this state. I can’t be governor here and security man owns an illegal refinery. No, it is not possible…the man has to go. Take him to wherever they allow bunkering.”
He directed the CP to immediately arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka, and Chief Promise Ezekwe, who have been fingered for operating illegal refineries deep inside the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
The governor further urged the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State command, to immediately transfer its personnel in charge of vandalism of pipelines in the state.
“Transfer the man, and tell him to leave. He is a complete saboteur. I mean, how can security men be the ones involved in this. What kind of country are we?”
He urged the Department of State Service (DSS) to profile persons involved in the heinous illegal refining business and make the list available to him. He assured to act on the list.
He also issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 LGA chairmen to provide a comprehensive list of illegal refineries and their operators within their jurisdiction.
The governor challenged the council chairmen to prove that they are not complicit in the obnoxious business that has continued to threaten the health of Rivers people and the national economy.
Wike stated that as a responsible government, it will be unwise for them to fold their hands and do nothing to safeguard residents of the state from the death that is forced upon them by criminal minded operators of artisanal refineries.
“Now, every council chairman must go and identify where illegal refineries are taking place. If you identify one, you get N2 million. So, go and identify as many as you can. I will pay N2m for each one. And I am going to fight against this. Our people are dying and we owe our people the responsibility to protect them, to save them from death they never caused.
“So, you must, and you’re given 48 hours to go and identify all illegal refineries sites, and those who are in charge of them.
The governor emphasised that any of the council chairmen who is afraid to join in the fight against the criminals operating the illegal refineries should be ready to resign.
According to the governor, part of their social contract with their people is also to protect them and stop any illegal economic practices in their domains.
“I’ve called you here to tell you that it’s a total war. It is either we do it or we don’t do it. We cannot allow what is going on to continue. Two things; our people are dying, two, it’s shortening our own revenue.
“You check from Federation Account, Akwa Ibom and Delta States are getting more, why? Because, these boys of the cartel have caused so much problems for us. So we will not allow it.”
Meanwhile, Dekor also lauded the governor for declaring those behind the illegal business wanted and personally visiting sites of the illegal business in Ikwerre and Emohua Local Government Areas of the state.
The lawmaker who is representing Khana/Gokana in the House of Representatives made the commendation while addressing a cross section of Rivers youths in Abuja.
He said the proactive steps taken by Wike to declare those behind the illegal business, apprehending many others and his visit to some sites of the illegal business would drastically reduce the menace of soot in the state.
“You all know that the state has been battling the challenge of soot worsened by the illegal business of refining petroleum products, popularly called kpo-fire.
“You are also aware of the agony, pains and sicknesses associated with the environmental hazard which has regularly contaminated the air in our dear state with devastating health implications.
“But thank God for the swift intervention of the governor and the successes recorded so far.
“You will recall, His Excellency has in his New Year broadcast promised to tackle head-on illegal crude oil refining activities in the state for the collective health survival of Rivers people.
“It is in view of this that I want to thank the governor for his prompt action taken towards addressing this ugly trend,” he said.
Dekor called on all community leaders to join the state governor in the struggle to bring an end to illegal crude oil refining activities in their localities to end the menace of soot in Rivers State by reporting those behind the illegal business in their communities to the law enforcement agencies.
The federal lawmaker also appealed to his constituents not to indulge in illegal crude oil refining activities, warning that anyone caught would be made to face the full weight of the law.
He said the noticeable blanket of soot in the skies across the state and in homes and on clothes are largely due to the upsurge in illegal bunkering business in the Niger Delta of which Rivers State appears to be one of the epicenters.
Dekor also frowned on the seeming reluctance of the federal government and the relevant agencies in working to mitigate the menace of soot in the Niger Delta and urged them to wake up to their responsibilities to protect the lives of the people and those living in the region and the environment.
Written By Obioma Ezenwobodo Esq
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