Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has ordered all the 23 Local Government Area Chairmen to hire bulldozers and destroy every identified illegal crude oil bunkering and artisanal refinery sites in the state.
Wike gave the order on Wednesday in a statement issued to newsmen by Mr Kelvin Ebiri, his Special Assistant on Media, after meeting with the 23 Local Government Area Chairmen, the State Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Port Harcourt.
He also asked the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, CP Eboka Friday, to provide adequate security for the LGAs chairmen as they embark on the mass destruction of illegal refinery sites across the State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Gov. Wike issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 local government area chairmen on Jan. 14, to provide him a comprehensive list of all illegal refinery sites and their operators within their respective jurisdiction.
Wike said with the receipt of the list of identified illegal refinery sites, the state government will provide financial support to the local government area chairmen to hire bulldozers and swamp buggies for the purpose of destroying all the sites.
“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. 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,” he said.
According to the Governor, the government will not allow those engaged in illegitimate business to operate in Rivers State.
“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,” he stated.
Wike acknowledged that since the State government intensified the fight against illegal refinery operators, who are primarily responsible for the discharge of impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, the air quality in parts of the state has improved remarkably.
He said he is mindful that as the State government intensifies the war against illegal refinery activities, the cartel behind these illicit businesses will make effort to compromise unscrupulous security agents in the state.
Wike warned that he will personally visit the Inspector General of Police, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Chief of Army Staff in Abuja, to report any of their personnel implicated in illegal crude oil bunkering and artisanal refinery activities in the state.
“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 stated.
The Governor said his administration cannot fold its arms and watch some deviant persons destroy the environment and health of the citizens while waiting for the Federal Government to come up with action to end the soot crisis in the oil-producing states. (NAN)