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Police deny preventing demolition of illegal oil bunkering site in Rivers

The police command in Rivers State has denied the report that its personnel prevented the destruction of an illegal oil bunkering site in the state.

Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, Governor of Rivers State

The command’s Acting Spokesman, DSP Grace Iringe-Koko, said in a statement in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, that policemen who visited the illegal refining site for operation were resisted.

Iringe-Koko said that it was untrue that policemen prevented the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council from demolishing the refining site located at Ogbogoro community.

She described the report as carried by a national newspaper as grossly misleading and untrue.

According to her, the council chairman, Mr George Ariolu, actually visited the site with a detachment of policemen led by ACP Akika Solomon.

She explained further that the chairman’s team was confronted and resisted by no fewer than 20 armed personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

”The NSCDC personnel were violently opposed to the inspection of the depot. In the ensuing altercation, two NSCDC officials corked their rifles against the police.

”They were eventually disarmed and arrested by the police before Ariolu had access into the depot,” she stated.

Iringi-Koko urged members of the public to disregard the report and appealed to journalists to thoroughly verify their facts before publication.

”We are fully committed to fighting the war against illegal oil bunkering to a logical conclusion,” she said.

In his reaction, Mr Bature Aliyu, NSCDC Commandant in Rivers, dismissed claims that the site was used for illegal oil activities.

”The marine exhibit yard in Ogbogoro jetty is not an illegal bunkering site.

”It is a holding bay used by NSCDC to detain boats, vessels, barges and drums used for illegal oil bunkering,” he said.

Aliyu, who spoke through the command’s Assistant Commandant of Corps, Michael Oguntuase, said that NSCDC’s Commandant-General, Ahmed Audi, visited and endorsed the site in 2021.

”So, the yard is NSCDC’s marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump.

”Most of the exhibits there were arrested by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to us, while some of the arrests were made by us.

”The Ogbogoro jetty is a no-go area for anybody because destroying the yard means destroying the exhibits,” he said.

Aliyu urged members of the public to report any NSCDC personnel found culpable of oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism in the state.

Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers had declared war on operators of illegal refineries and announced a reward of N2 million for each reported to authorities.

Several suspects, including highly placed individuals, have so far been arrested in the state by the police in connection with the illicit activities.

By Desmond Ejibas

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