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Rivers Gov’t Destroys 27 Illegal Refinery Sites, Arrests Eight

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Eight persons suspected to be pipeline vandals have been arrested in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, as the operation to end oil bunkering and illegal refining of petroleum products is intensified by the state government.

The suspects were arrested by a special anti-bunkering taskforce set up by the council chairman, Rowland Sekibo to fight illegal oil bunkering in the area.
The team, in different operations led by the chairman, has also destroyed at least 27 illegal Refinery sites in the area in the past one week.

“My advice to them (communities) is that they should just give us information, because the truth is that it is difficult for many communities to fight against the people that indulge in this illegal bunkering, because they are criminals and you can’t take ordinary hands to a gunfight,” Sekibo said.
“But those of us that are responsible, when we get information, we will go after them.”

The fight against illegal bunkering in Rivers State is being spearheaded by Governor Nyesom Wike.
Wike earlier this month promised a reward of two million naira for identifying illegal refineries.

On Friday, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor led top military officers on a courtesy call to Wike and pledged full military support for the fight against illegal refineries in the State. Irabor vowed that the fight would be extended to all Niger-Delta states.
Also in Rivers State yesterday, an electricity vandal met his Waterloo in a bid to vandalise dead-over-head lines close to Timber 33kv lines belonging to the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution (PHED) Plc.

It was learned that the suspect did not go scot- free as he was electrocuted on the spot in Oyigbo Local Government Area, Rivers State.
It was gathered that the vandal, who sustained serious injuries from the crime, had already made arrangements to auction the assets in the open electricity market with buyers waiting.

However, the management of the Port Harcourt Disco have strongly frowned at such illicit behaviour, while sensitising members of the public about the dangers associated with vandalism.

According to the statement by John Anonyai, Head Corporate Communications, PHED, “vandalism is on a rapid rise and remains the central reason why the majority of customers suffer untold hardship in darkness without knowing that vandalism occurs every now and then”.

PHED’s Acting Managing Director, Ochuko Amah, said It was unthinkable why anyone would dare to vandalise an energised equipment serving members of the public for no logical reason found anywhere.

She said the management “has zero tolerance for such behaviour that costs the company fortunes in the replacement of vandalised equipment when ordinarily such spend should have been reinvested into the system for service improvement.

“Just in case the vandals are aware or pretend not to be aware, there are extant laws ranging from the ESPRA Act (2005), Miscellaneous Offences Act and the Nigerian Criminal Code that enables the courts of law to convict vandals.”

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