Army destroys illegal refinery camp in Delta
Ben Dunno, Warri
Troops of Sector 1 Command, Operation ‘Delta Safe,’ in the Nigerian Army, have destroyed what could best be described as one of the largest illegal refinery camp in the Niger Delta, situated at Otovwodo community, in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State.
The operation, which lasted for 23 days, saw the destruction of over 1,000 hectares, where cartels, who specialise in crude oil theft, had operated for almost two decades, causing severe air pollution and spills on the community’s river.
Destroyed alongside the cooking camps were factories, where canoe boats, used as operational tools to convey the refined products out of the locations, due to closeness to river were being constructed.
Military sources told Daily Sun of the operations, and noted that besides the negative economic implications, activities of the cartel had on the country’s oil revenue, the environmental hazard it posed on both human and aquatic lives of the area were enormous.
It was gathered that the Commander Sector 1, Delta Safe, Colonel Baba Manu, ordered the operation, following his visit to NNPC gas plant at Otorogun, Ughelli North; to conduct an on-the-spot assessment on the leakages reported at OML 34, which was suspected to have been tampered with by oil thieves.
“In the course of this fact finding tour, the Commander visited Otu-Jeremi river, Ughe-Ughe and Otovwodo communities, where a very large expanse of land with over 11 different cooking refinery camps operated by oil bunkerers to refine stolen crude being diverted from NNPC pipelines traversing the areas or in some cases siphoned directly from the well- heads.
“Shocked by this sight of large cooking camps and the devastation it has caused to its immediate environment, in terms of spillage to the nearby river and air pollution, the Commander quickly ordered clampdown on the various camps discovered in the entire area and that was how the operation was carried out.”
The operation, which lasted over for three weeks, saw heavy deployment of men and equipment, including swamp buggies, from the various units under operation ‘Delta Safe,’ to the identified locations, mostly along the river banks in the affected communities where the camps were located.
Speaking on the operation, the monarch of Ughelli, Dr. Wilson Ojakovo Oghoghovwe Oharisi III, commended the military for taking the initiative to destroy the cooking refinery camps in his domain.