At Least 112 illegal refineries have been discovered in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State.
According to the chairman of the council, Samuel Nwanosike 99% of the discoveries were made in a particular community located along the OML 17 trunk lines.
The discovery comes on the heels of the recent efforts by the state government to bring an end to the economic sabotage brought as a result of the illegal refineries, as well as the health implications resulting from soot pollution.
Governor Nyesom Wike had pledged N460 million to the 23 local government area chairmen to fight oil bunkering in the state.
This implies that each chairman will receive N20 million to destroy illegal refinery sites that have been identified in their respective domains.
Wike made this pledge on Wednesday when he met with the local government chairmen, the Commissioner of Police in Rivers, Friday Eboka, and the State Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Aliyu Bature.
“All of you should hire bulldozers, clear all those creeks,” the governor ordered the LG bosses. “The government will give you some money so that they will know that we are serious.
“Those of you who are from the riverine areas, I don’t want to hear it is the creek. Go and clear those areas, apply to the state government, each of you, at least N20 million for a start to hire the equipment.
“That does not mean you will wait before you start. You must start today, tomorrow. CP, please give them the security to do this work. Don’t give them two policemen.”
This comes a week after the governor asked the police commissioner to collaborate with heads of other security agencies in Rivers, council chairmen, and traditional rulers to fish out all those involved in illegal bunkering and artisanal refining for prosecution.
He had accused persons engaged in illegal bunkering and artisanal refining of being responsible for the soot polluting the air and endangering the health of residents of the state.
The governor also declared that the state government has resolved to curb the activities of those involved in crude oil theft and refining once and for all.
Meanwhile, there have been renewed calls to the Federal Government to provide modular refineries to curb the economic sabotage.