Governor of Rivers State, Governor, Nyesom Wike has given chairmen of local governments in the state orders to destroy all illegal refineries in their domains as part of the ongoing war to stop the spread of soot.
Wike who received a comprehensive list of all illegal refineries in the state from chairmen of the 23 local government areas of the state, asked them to hire bulldozers and destroy all identified illegal refineries in Rivers.
He assured that the government would provide financial support for the operations.
The governor asked the Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, to provide adequate security for the chairmen during the operations.
Wike gave the order yesterday when he met with the chairmen, the Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps ( NSCDC) at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor had earlier issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 chairmen to provide him with a comprehensive list of all illegal refinery sites and their operators within their respective jurisdiction.
Wike said: “I will not relent in this fight. And all of you should hire bulldozers. All those areas where the illegal refinery sites are in the bush, in the creek, clear the place.
“The government will give you some money to go and hire bulldozers to go and clear the sites so that they will know we are serious.
“One thing I want to say and which is very clear, and like everybody knows, I am not against anybody making money. But, we cannot allow people to make money while others are dying.”
The governor said since the state government intensified the fight against illegal refinery operators primarily responsible for the soot, the air quality in parts of the Rivers has improved remarkably.
He said the cartel behind illicit business would make effort to compromise unscrupulous security agents in the state.
The governor, however, warned that he would personally visit the Inspector-General of Police, the Commandant-General of the NSCDC and the Chief of Army Staff in Abuja, to report any of their personnel implicated in the criminality.
“You know in Nigeria, we don’t believe that anything can happen. We don’t take government seriously, but in our own case, they have no choice, they’ll take us seriously”, he said.
It was gathered that policemen and men of the NSCDC clashed at a petroleum depot where the Chairman of Obio-Akpor, George Ariolu, went for an inspection.
Acting Police Public Relations Officer, Grace Iringe-Koko said: “The Chairman of Obio-Akpor Local Government Area actually went to a petroleum depot at Ogbogoro with a detachment of policemen led by ACP Akika Solomon on 15/01/2022.
“On arrival, they met about 20 armed personnel of NSCDC who were violently opposed to the inspection of the depot.
“In the ensuing altercation, two of the NSCDC officials corked their rifles against the police. The former were eventually disarmed and arrested, and the chairman had ingress.”
The statement reiterated the commitment of the command to fighting the war against oil bunkering to a logical conclusion in partnership with the government.