Onyedi Igwe, Port Harcourt

The Governor of Rivers State, Barr. Nyesom Wike, on Friday intensified the clamp down on operators of illegal refineries which have polluted the state capital and environs with soot.

The embittered Governor issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the chairmen of the 23 local government areas in the state to provide a list of all operators of illegal refineries within their councils.

Wike spoke in Port Harcourt during a special meeting with the council chairmen and heads of the Army, Air force, the Navy, the Police, the Department of State Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Friday.

Wike said that the council bosses had a responsibility to prove that they are not complicit in the illegal refineries whose activities have endangered the health of the citizens and even the economy.

The Governor who placed a bounty of N2 million on any of the operators of illegal refineries in the state, said that it would be inconceivable for the government to allow the devastation caused by their abhorrent activities.

He warned council chairmen who are afraid to join the government’s efforts to protect the citizenry from untimely death to resign.

He stressed that it was of part of the social contract of the council chairmen with their people to protect them and stop any illegal economic practices in their domains.

“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.”

“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 reducing 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”.

Wike also accused some personnel
of security agencies of aiding and providing cover to the operators of the illegal refineries in the State.

The governor urged the State Police Commissioner, Mr. 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 ensure immediate arrest of Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka, and chief Promise Ezekwe, who had been named for operating illegal refineries deep inside the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.

The governor also urged Commandant of NSCDC Rivers State command, to immediately transfer its officer in charge of vandalism of pipelines in the state.

He said that the man should be transferred because “he is a complete saboteur.”

The governor called on the DSS to profile culprits of illegal refineries in the state.


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