Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has given the 23 Local Government Chairmen a 48-hour deadline to produce a detailed list of illegal refinery sites and their operators within their authority.
At a meeting with the council chairmen and heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police, the Directorate of State Service, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps on Friday at Government House, Governor Wike issued the ultimatum.
The governor urged the council chairmen to show that they are not involved in the poisonous business that has continued to endanger Rivers residents’ health and the national economy.
Governor Wike added that as a competent administration, they would be foolish to fold their hands and do nothing to protect citizens of the state from the death that artisanal refinery owners force upon them.
“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,” he said.
Governor Wike stated emphatically that any council chairmen who are scared to join the fight against the criminals who operate the illegal refineries should be prepared to resign.
“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 shortening 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,” he said.
The governor of Rivers State has also expressed his displeasure with security agencies for assisting and providing cover to the operators of illicit refineries in the state.
The governor has directed the State Police Commissioner, Eboka Friday, to relocate a specific DPO in the Emohua Local Government Region, who is running an illegal refinery in the area, out of the state.
“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 said.
Governor Wike has ordered the CP to arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka, and Chief Promise Ezekwe, all of whom have been accused of running illicit refineries deep into the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
The governor also urged the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State Command, to transfer soldiers in charge of pipeline vandalism in the state as soon as possible.
“Transfer the man, and tell him to leave. He is a complete saboteur. I mean, how can security men be the one involved in this. What kind of country are we?”
The Governor has asked the Department of State Service (DSS) to identify anyone participating in the abhorrent illegal refining activity and provide him with a list. He stated that he will act on the list.
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