By Emma Amaize
WARRI- MEN of the Nigerian Navy, Warri Naval Base, cracked down on oil thieves in Opumami and Olero creek in the riverside areas of Delta State, during the week, and razed over 33 unlawful crude oil refineries.
The operatives also destroyed illegally refined crude oil in over 33 Cotonou boats intercepted during the offensive.
Commanding Officer, NNS Delta, Warri, Commodore Mohammed Garba, who confirmed the raid, Friday, to reporters in Warri, disclosed that 21 local refineries were smashed at Opumami and additional 12 at Olero creek.
Commodore Garba said, ‚ÄúWe destroyed the illegal refineries to act as a deterrent to the oil bunkerers.‚Äù
However, none of the oil thieves was not seized, as they reportedly took to their heels on sensing the naval men.
According to NNS Delta Commander, ‚ÄúThey fled in different directions on sighting the naval personnel. I want to say, however, that they can only run away for some time, but cannot hide forever because the long arm of the law will soon catch up with them‚Äù.
His words, ‚ÄúThe Nigerian Navy will continue to wage war against oil theft in the Niger-Delta region. We will not tolerate illegal act being perpetrated along the creeks and waterways.‚Äù
Commodore Garba maintained that the base would continue to adhere strictly to the Chief of Naval Staff zero tolerance on illegal bunkering and other illegalities on the waterways.
He said investigation by NNS Delta showed large quantity of crude oil was pilfered from an abandoned wellhead in a riverside location, adding, ‚ÄúThe hoodlums took advantage and started siphoning crude oil at will.‚Äù
‚ÄúI want to sound a note of warning to illegal bunkerers to desist from this criminal act as anyone caught will not only be dealt with severely,¬† but will also be handed over to the appropriate law enforcement organ for prosecution‚Äù, he asserted.
Describing illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism as criminal offences, Commodore Garba lamented that that action of the vandals was not only robbing the nation a lot of fortune, but was detrimental to the nation‚Äôs economy.
‚ÄúWe will not rest on ours in fighting these criminals to a stand-still because their action is inimical to the growth of the nation‚Äôs economy and the oil sector,‚Äù he intoned.