Soot: Wike orders LG chairmen to destroy illegal refinery sites in Rivers
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 site in Rivers State.
The governor has asked the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday to provide adequate security for the chairmen as they embark on the mass destruction of illegal refinery sites across the state.
The Governor gave the order on Wednesday during a meeting with the council Chairmen, the State Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps ( NSCDC) in Port Harcourt.
It will be recalled that Wike had on Friday, 14th January 2022 issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 Local Government Area chairmen to provide him with a comprehensive list of all illegal refinery sites and their operators within their respective jurisdiction.
He stated that with the receipt of the list of identified illegal refinery sites, the state government would provide financial support to the Local Government Area Chairmen to hire bulldozers and swamp buggies for the purpose of destroying all the sites.
Wike said: “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. The 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 urged the Commissioner of Police to give the Local Government Area chairmen adequate security personnel to go and destroy all illegal refinery sites stressing that government would 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.”
The governor 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 Rivers State has improved remarkably.
He said he was mindful that as the state government intensifies the war against illegal refinery activities, the cartel behind illicit business would make effort to compromise unscrupulous security agents in the State.
The governor, however, warned that he would 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 Rivers State.
The governor said: “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 regretted the failure of the Federal Government to take any action to end the soot crisis in the oil-producing states saying that his administration cannot fold its arms and watch some deviant persons destroy the environment and health of the citizens.