The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps on Thursday destroyed 13 illegal refineries in Rivers State.
This, according to the State Command of the NSCDC, was in line with its drive to eradicate the oil rich Niger Delta of oil theft, bunkering and other illegal activities.
The anti-vandal squad of the command had visited the illegal refining sites located in the creeks of B-Dere community in Gokana Local Government Area, setting ablaze seven illegal refineries.
It also advanced to Bolo Creek in Ogu/Bolo LGA where it burnt down six of the illegal refineries and oil dumps, bringing the total number to 13.
In the operation that lasted for about five hours at the heart of B-Dere/Bolo creeks, the team also destroyed four boats, two flying-boats and two mangala boats used by the vandals in their activities.
Earlier in the raid, some persons suspected to be operators of the illegal refineries at the visited sites had clashed with the NSCDC officers.
The gunmen had engaged the security operatives in a shootout before escaping for safety having been overpowered by the anti-vandal team, although no casualty was recorded.
Speaking to Southern City News after the operations, the Commandant of NSCDC Rivers State Command, Mrs. Helen Amakiri, said it located the illegal refineries through its intelligence gathering and reports.
Amakiri disclosed that the vandals had been stealing crude from oil pipelines in the area and illegally refining the products in the two creeks.
She noted that about 330,000 liters of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil and 250,000 crude oil were discovered and destroyed
The commandant, however, stressed that the government was losing much revenue to the activities of the vandals, adding that they (NSCDC) will not relent in their effort to stop oil theft.
“The officers of the NSCDC Rivers State were in B-Dere in Gokana LGA and Bolo Creek in Ogu/Bolo LGA and we destroyed 13 illegal refineries. From an intelligence report, we gathered that these refineries exist there.
“In today’s operations, about 330,000 litres of adulterated AGO and about 250,000 litres of crude oil were destroyed.
“The government is losing a lot. Definitely this crude oil is got from a burst pipeline. The money that is being wasted due to the activities of these vandals would have been used by the government for other needs of the country.
“We have the challenge of equipment, sophisticated weapons. Like today, there was a shootout between the vandals and our men. Although we have what we can face them with, but we need more.
“There was a shootout between the vandals and our men, but, no casualty was recorded. The shootout will not deter us from our activities, rather, it has boosted our morale,” Amakiri vowed.