BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, PORT HARCOURT
Naval Officers have been charged to maintain the tempo in the quest to root out illegal refining and Pipeline vandalism within Niger Delta Region.
Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Dewu who gave the charge at bunkering sites in Gbile Cawthorne Channel and ke-community Degema Local Government Area, Rivers State, said the operation being carried out by Nigerian Navy Ship NNS Pathfinder is part of Exercise Dakatar Da Barawo launched by Nigerian Navy to eliminate crude oil theft and illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta Region and the nation at large.
Earlier on, the FOC did a ground breaking of a new detection quarters that will serve as a correctional center at NNS Pathfinder.
He commended the commander NNS Pathfinder for embarking on the laudable project.
Taking the war against oil theft to vandal in the creeks is part of the step up activities embarked upon by Nigerian Navy with the determination to end illegal oil activities.
The operation involves the use of swamp buggy to dismantle the illegal refining infrastructure being used by vandals to refine or as it is said in the local palace, “Cook” the products and sell to their collaborators who often load the products in the middle of the night.
While assessing the success of the swam buggy operations in
K-community which is within the operation area of Nigerian Navy NNS Pathfinder, the Flag Officer Commanding FOC, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Dewu expressed displeasure over the negative impact of oil bunkering to the Economy, farmlands and aquatic life.
Rear Admiral Dewu described as disheartening the collaboration between the communities and the vandals and enjoined the all stakeholders to support the efforts of Nigerian Navy towards total eradication of illegal oil activities in the nation.
He observed that most of the illegal refining sites are close to wellheads some of which have been abandoned and called on international oil companies to monitor their oil installations.
The Eastern Naval Command FOC, who explained that the swamp buggy operation is very risky due to fire outbreak and attacks from the vandals, thanked The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral AZ Gambo for providing firefighting equipment for safety of officers.
On his part, the Commander NNS Pathfinder, Commodore Suleiman Ibrahim insisted that the operations would be sustained despite efforts by the vandals to regroup after their sites have been dismantled.
Commodore Ibrahim told newsmen that over seventy vandals have been arrested in the sustained operation and have been handed over to prosecuting agencies for prosecution.
While acknowledging that logistics requirements for swamp buggy Operation is quite demanding, he appreciated the Chief of the Naval Staff for providing the needed support.