Kpofire: AKULGA Council Raids Obonoma Creeks, Makes Arrests

…Threatens Sanctions Against Traditional Rulers Fingered In Act

Governor Nyesom Wike’s marching order on Local Government Chairmen to fish out illegal oil bunkerers in their domain or risksuspension if he does so himself, has again paid off following the raiding of the mangrove creeks of Obonoma and surrounding communities in Akuku Toru Local Government Area (AKULGA), by a task force set up by Council Chairman, Hon. Rowland Sekibo.

Hon. Sekibo, while briefing journalists at Council Secretariat, Abonnema, Wednesday, said the raid was carried out by the task force comprising men of the police, army, navy, NSCD and local vigilante, popularly called AKULGA OSPAC.

He told reporters that the operation led to the destruction of several illegal oil refining camps in the creeks of Obonoma, adding that the task force also uncovered and confiscated locally fabricated ovens, artisanal refineries and five oil reservoirs filled with products suspected to be crude oil and refined petroleum products.

The Chairman disclosed that eight suspected pipeline vandals were arrested in Boro Creek of Kula Community, and handed over to the police.

The AKULGA boss who revealed that the task force was inaugurated in November, 2021, promised to traverse the length and breadth of the creeks to dislodge hardened criminals who are unconcerned about the dangers posed by their criminal activities.

“A total of six locally fabricated ovens/artisanal refineries and five oil reservoirs filled with products suspected to be crude oil and refined petroleum products allegedly owned and operated by one Mr. Ikior was discovered.

“The task force was able to manually dismantle and destroy the ovens to avert any outbreak of fire that will further pollute the already combustible environment, thereby adding to the menace of black carbon in the atmosphere rather than diminishing its effect”, he said, adding that illegal refinery sites and makeshift camps at Anaama Creek situated deep in the mangroves, were also uncovered.

The Chairman said the campaign to rid the creeks of oil bunkering activities tagged “Operation End Kpo-Fire in Akuku-Toru LGA” which was initially supposed to be a seven days operation, would be extended to ensure thorough combing of the creeks in Abissa, Idama, Kula and Soku were the illegal activities are prevalent.

Hon. Sekibo further revealed that the total number of illegal oil refineries uncovered and destroyed within the Obonoma community alone was twenty-seven, with over thirty makeshift reservoirs littered across the length and breadth of the mangrove swamps.

His words, “We are determined to carry this fight into the nook and crannies of the creeks of AKULGA and I wish to make it clear that we will spare no sacred cows in our efforts to rid our communities of this deplorable and unacceptable action of a few greedy and thoughtless individuals.

“We equally warn that any paramount ruler or chiefs, no matter how highly placed, that is fingered in this illicit business in any of the communities in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area, will be made to face the wrath of the law.

“I, therefore, call on the Youths of AKULGA to desist from this criminal enterprise and reconsider the harm it is causing everyone including those who are directly or indirectly involved in this act. I want to remind them that the gains of illegal bunkering are just temporary but the damage to the ecosystem is irremediable”.

Some of the suspected pipeline vandals who spoke to National Networkat the AKULGA headquarters in Abonnema pleaded innocence, insisting they were labourershired to dig up mud at the site, before they were arrested, blindfolded and brought to Abonnema.


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