Eight persons suspected to be pipeline vandals have been arrested in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The suspects were nabbed by a task force team set up by the council chairman to fight illegal oil bunkering in the area.
The team, in an operation led by the council chairman, Rowland Sekibo, also destroyed 27 refineries in Obonoma creeks in the LGA.
Sekibo, on Wednesday, said four of the sites were destroyed at Agama creek, adding that the operation was still on.
He said, “A total of six locally-fabricated ovens/artisanal refineries and five oil reservoirs filled with products suspected to be crude oil and refined petroleum products allegedly owned and operated by one Mr Ikior were discovered.
“The task force was able to manually dismantle and destroy the ovens to avert any outbreak of fire that will further pollute the already combustible environment, thereby adding to the menace of black carbon in the atmosphere, rather than diminishing its effect.
“On Sunday, January 23, 2022, which was the day two of the clampdown on illegal bunkering, alias Kpofire in Akulga, the task force on illegal bunkering, with the assistance of the joint team of the military and paramilitary personnel, invaded yet another camp situated deep in the creeks of Fonosama and Agama in Obonoma community, where we uncovered another four illegal refinery sites and makeshift storage facilities. The owner of the camp is yet to be identified.
On Monday, January 24, 2022, members of the task force and a team of combined military and paramilitary personnel uncovered more sites in the mangrove swamps of Fonosama in Obonoma, were a total of 10 locally-made refineries and over 20 reservoirs, containing products suspected to be crude oil and already refined petroleum products, were stored. The alleged owner of the site is one Mr Portus.”
Sekibo noted that the task force dismantled the ovens and the makeshift huts and confiscated some equipment on the site, adding that a total of 27 illegal oil refineries were uncovered and destroyed in Obonoma.
He said the team arrested eight suspected pipeline vandals, adding that they were apprehended with their equipment.
The council boss called on the youth of Akulga to desist from the criminal venture and reconsider the harm it was causing to the environment.