Police, NSCDC clash over ‘illegal oil bunkering site’ in Rivers

The police in Rivers State, Nigeria’s South-south, have narrated how their operatives clashed with the personnel of a sister security agency – the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) – over an alleged illegal oil bunkering site in the state.


The police spokesperson in the state, Grace Iringe-Koko, in a statement in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, said police operatives who visited the illegal refining site at Ogbogoro community for an operation, were resisted by armed officials of the NSCDC.


Ms Iringe-Koko, a deputy superintendent of police, said the Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Council, George Ariolu visited the site with a detachment of police operatives led by Akika Solomon, an assistant commissioner of police.

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She said armed civil defence officials, about 20 of them, prevented the chairman’s team from having access to the site.


“They were eventually disarmed and arrested by the police before Ariolu had access into the depot,” she said.

“We are fully committed to fighting the war against illegal oil bunkering to a logical conclusion,” she said.

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In his reaction, Bature Aliyu, the NSCDC Commandant in Rivers, dismissed claims that the site was used for illegal oil activities.


“The marine exhibit yard in Ogbogoro jetty is not an illegal bunkering site.


“It is a holding bay used by NSCDC to detain boats, vessels, barges and drums used for illegal oil bunkering,” he said.

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Mr Aliyu, who spoke through an Assistant Commandant of Corps, Michael Oguntuase, said that NSCDC’s Commandant-General, Ahmed Audi, visited and endorsed the site in 2021.


“So, the yard is NSCDC’s marine exhibits yard and not an illegal dump.


“Most of the exhibits there were arrested by the Nigerian Navy and handed over to us, while some of the arrests were made by us.


“The Ogbogoro jetty is a no-go area for anybody because destroying the yard means destroying the exhibits,” he said.

Mr Aliyu urged members of the public to report any NSCDC personnel found culpable of oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism in the state.

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The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike has declared war on operators of illegal refineries in the state.


The governor recently accused the police and the civil defence of aiding and abetting the operation of illegal refineries in the state.


List of Illegal Refineries received

Meanwhile, Governor Nyesom Wike, said his government has received the list of illegal refineries from local council chairmen. He promised to provide financial support to the chairmen to hire bulldozers and swamp buggies to destroy the sites.


The governor also asked the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, to provide adequate security for the chairmen as they destroy the refineries.


Wike gave the command, yesterday, during a meeting with the 23 council chairmen, the state Commissioner of Police and the Commandant of the NSCDC at the Government House, Port Harcourt.


Recall that Wike had, on Friday, January 14, issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the chairmen to provide him a comprehensive list of all illegal refineries and their operators within their respective jurisdiction.


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. 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 chairmen adequate security. According to the governor, the government will 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.”


MEANWHILE, the Rivers Police Command has refuted allegations that its operatives prevented a council boss from destroying bunkering sites in the state.


Reacting to a publication in one of the national dailies, the acting PPRO of the Command, Grace Iringe-Koko, in a statement issued yesterday, described the allegation as misleading and unfortunate, and urged the public to disregard it.

Iringe-Koko said: “The attention of Rivers State Police Command has been drawn to the January 18, 2022 edition of the New Telegraph Newspaper, which alleged that the police prevented the executive chairman of Obio-Akpor council, George Ariolu, from destroying an illegal refinery used by oil thieves. This is quite misleading and unfortunate.”


“To put the records straight, the Chairman of Obio-Akpor council, actually went to the petroleum depot at Ogbogoro with a detachment of policemen led by ACP Akika Solomon on 15/01/2022. On arrival, they met about twenty armed officers of NSCDC who were violently opposed to the inspection of the depot. In the ensuing altercation, two of the NSCDC officials corked their rifles against the police. The former were eventually disarmed and arrested, and the chairman had ingress.”


The Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, while calling on the public to disregard the report, reiterated the commitment of the command to fighting the war against oil bunkering to a logical conclusion.

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