The Nigerian Navy has launched Operation River Sweep as part of measures to curtail the activities of crude oil thieves, operators of illegal refineries and other maritime related crimes in the Niger Delta region.
The Flag Officer Commanding, Rear Admiral Mohammed Sanni Garba, said that the operation has led to the destruction of illegal refineries, arrests of criminal elements, recovery of speed boats and stolen crude in the region.
Channels Television crew visited the creeks and found some suspected metallic drums of crude oil and gallons at the site of a camp at Igoniogbene and Asiagbene, both in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.
Addressing reporters after the operation, Rear Admiral Garba said that Operation River Sweep II was activated as part of measures to further degrade and dislodge the criminal elements in the maritime domain.
He said that the operation started at about a week earlier and had led to the arrest of suspected oil thieves and recovery of so many other items.
42 Illegal Refineries
“I am pleased to announce that after over a week of persistent crack down on the operators of these illegalities, our team has so far discovered and destroyed a total of 42 illegal refining camps.
“Accordingly, about 3,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of suspected stolen crude oil and 1,000 MT of product suspected to be illegally refined AGO were destroyed in the operation in line with extant regulation.
“Also 40 Cotonou boats laden with suspected stolen crude were set ablaze with nine speed boats and 14 pumping machines recovered during the course of the operation.
“The operation also led to (various) arrests including three high profile members of the criminals involved in pipeline vandalism.
“Some have been interrogated and handed over to the DIA, NPF and DSS as appropriate for further investigation and possible prosecution,” the FOC revealed.
The Navy restated that it remained committed in ensuring freedom of the waterways and the seas, in order to enhance legitimate and favourable balance of trade towards Nigeria’s economic prosperity and the general well-being of its people.