Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 local government chairmen to provide a comprehensive list of illegal refineries and their operators within their jurisdictions in the ongoing battle to stop the soot menace in the State.
The Governor gave the the order on Friday when he met with the council chairmen and heads of the Army, Air Force, the Navy, the Police, the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) at Government House.
Wike asked the chairmen to prove that they were not complicit in the illegal business that had continued to threaten the health of Rivers people and national economy.
Wike insisted that as a responsible government, it would be unwise for them to fold their hands and do nothing to safeguard residents of the State from the death forced upon them from operators of illegal refineries.
He said: “Now, every council chairman must go and identify where illegal refineries are taking place. If you identify one, you get N2m (Two million Naira). 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.”
Wike emphasised that any of the council chairmen afraid to join in the fight against 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.
He said: “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”.
The Governor also frown on security agencies for the roles some of their personnel had played in aiding and providing cover to the operators of the illegal refineries in the State.
Wike urged Rivers Police Commissioner, Eboka Friday, to redeploy a particular Divisional Police Officer (DPO) accused of operating an illegal refinery in the area.
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.”
Wike directed the CP to immediately arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka and chief Promise Ezekwe accused of operating illegal refineries deep inside the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
The Governor further urged Commandant of NSCDC 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 one involved in this. What kind of country are we?” he queried.
The Governor urged the DSS to profile persons involved in the heinous illegal refining business and make the list available to him.