The governor of Rivers State, Mr. Nyesom Wike yesterday called on the commissioner of police, Mr. Friday Eboka, to immediately deploy a particular DPO in Emohua local government from the state.
The governor alleged that the unnamed police officer was illegally refining petroleum products popularly called ‘kpo-fire’ in the state.
Special assistant to the governor on media, Mr. Kelvin Ebiri, said in a statement that Wike gave the directive at a meeting with the local council chairmen and heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force, Directorate of State Services and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Port Harcourt.
He said a mere transfer of the police officer from the local government area to another place was not enough insisting that the divisional police officer must leave 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 stated.
The governor also urged commandant of the NCSDC, Rivers State command, to immediately transfer its personnel in charge of vandalisation of pipelines in the state.
“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?”
Besides, Wike directed the Eboka to immediately arrest Chief W. J. Wocha, Fubara Ohaka, and chief Promise Ezekwe, for allegedly operating illegal refineries deep inside the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua local government area.
The governor also gave the 23 council chairmen an ultimatum of 48 hours to provide a comprehensive list of illegal refineries and their operators within their jurisdiction.
He said the war against illegal refining of crude was “total” as the activities to the illegal refiners affect the health of the citizens as well as the state’s share from the federation account
As a responsible government, Wike said it would be unwise to fold hands and do nothing to safeguard residents of the state from the death forced upon them by criminally-minded operators of artisanal refineries.
“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.
He challenged the council chairmen to join in the fight and promised a N2 million gift to any of them who would identify where illegal refineries are located
“Now, every council chairman must go and identify where illegal refineries are taking place. If you identify one, you get N2 million. 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 added.
He said council chairmen who were not ready to join in the fight against persons engaging in illegal refining of crude in the state should be ready to resign.
Meanwhile, the chairman, house of representatives committee on host communities, Mr. Dumnamene Dekor, has applauded the governor for proactively taking steps to tackle the menace of illegal oil refining in the state.
Dekor who represents Khana/Gokana federal constituency made the commendation while addressing some Rivers State youths in Abuja.
He said the proactive steps taken by Wike to declare those behind the illegal business, apprehending many others and his visit to some sites of the illegal business would drastically reduce the menace of soot in the state.
“You all know that the state has been battling the challenge of soot worsened by the illegal business of refining petroleum products, popularly called kpo-fire.
“You are also aware of the agony, pains and sicknesses associated with the environmental hazard which has regularly contaminated the air in our dear state with devastating health implications.
“But thank God for the swift intervention of the governor and the successes recorded so far.
“You will recall His Excellency has in his New Year broadcast promised to tackle head-on illegal crude oil refining activities in the state for the collective health survival of Rivers people.
“It is in view of this that I want to thank the governor for his prompt action taken towards addressing this ugly trend,” he said.
The lawmaker therefore called on all community leaders to join the state governor in the fight against illegal crude oil refining activities in their localities so as to put end soot plaguing the state.