NEWS

JTF Uncovers 50 Illegal Refineries In Bayelsa

The JTF remains committed to pursuing oil thieves through continued operations, with potential escalation in measures.

By Nydra Ayibapreye

Operation Delta Safe, a Joint Task Force, has revealed more than 50 illicit crude oil refining facilities within the Biseni region of Yenagoa Local Government Area in Bayelsa State.

Commander John Okeke, leading the mission, disclosed that each site was engaged in the illegal processing of stolen crude oil. Despite prior warnings to cease such activities or relocate, no arrests were made.

Okeke implored residents to provide crucial information to combat this illicit trade, emphasizing the need for community involvement. The JTF remains committed to pursuing oil thieves through continued operations, with potential escalation in measures.

Furthermore, a significant uncovered feature was a vast open pit used by the perpetrators to store stolen crude oil, indicating a sophisticated operation. Okeke highlighted a recent operation in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State, emphasising the JTF’s extensive reach in tackling oil theft.

He said, “Today, as I said, we are not going to relent and it is a work in progress. We will not get tired, we will continue. We are in Biseni in Yenagoa LGA of Bayelsa.

“We transverse from Ahoada West LGA of Rivers to reach this point; the most surprising thing is that this place we are now is housing over 50 cooking sites with unique arrangements.”

According to him, the thieves operating in the area connected what is called a theft line made of a two-inch pipe, a galvanized pipe, directly to the supply oil line on the road, from a distance of about a kilometre.

Continuing, he said, “Then they have a lot of funny connections where they have various arrangements of D connection, multiple connections, where each of the thieves gets his supply from a large dug-out open pit that can accommodate more than 10 trucks of AGO, holding crude oil, from where they distribute to their cooking sites”.

On the site of the illegal refineries, Okeke stated, “Look at the thick forest we are in now. You can never imagine that such a serious crime is going on here. If not for the good-spirited individual who volunteered information, we wouldn’t have known.”

Okeke further added, “It appears that they felt that we are playing romance with kid gloves, but I can assure you that it is getting out of hand if we continue to curb this illicit activity.

“I will begin to advocate for more serious measures to address this challenge because the country is bleeding from, you know, these illicit oil activities.

“When you allow such activities to continuously be perpetuated the legitimate people that engage (in the business) will not be able to sell their products because these criminals will be selling at far lower prices.

“The government needs to gain revenue for developmental purposes, that is why we have taken it as a force to continue fighting this battle and we will not relent”.

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