The Nigeria Navy handed over 11 artisans arrested on suspicion of planning to construct an illegal refinery to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Port Harcourt on Monday.
Cdr. Sa’id Kabir, the Base Operations Officer of Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder Port Harcourt, handed the suspects over to Mr Monday Lawal of the NSCDC Command in Rivers.
Kabir said the suspects were arrested during a patrol of Krakrama Waterways to combat illegal oil bunkering in Rivers.
“The arrests were made in line with the strategic mandate on zero tolerance for crude oil and other petroleum products theft.
“NNS Pathfinder’s Tactical Response and Assault Squadron intercepted a boat with 11 persons on board during a patrol around Krakrama Creeks on Jan. 23.
“Ten metal plates, 14 angle iron and 20 gas cylinders were found carefully concealed in the wooden boat for the construction of illegal refining facility in the creeks.
“Investigation revealed that the suspects were conveying the materials to Bille, a riverine community with intent to construct an illegal refinery.
“It was also discovered that the suspects specialise in the construction of illegal refineries and were contracted by one Mr John.
“The base is making concerted efforts to arrest John and other suspects involved in this criminal enterprise,’’ Kabir said.
The officer warned oil thieves to relocate from Rivers as men of NNS Pathfinder were gaining ground to arrest and bring them to justice.
He said the Navy was aware of attempts by criminal elements to discredit the security outfit in order to have freedom to continue in their illicit operations.
“The base will not be deterred by the antics of enemies of the nation in the discharge of its constitutional duties.
“We assure the people of Rivers of our readiness to facilitate a peaceful and secure environment for the conduct of legitimate business activities.
“To this end, NNS Pathfinder requests the support of members of the public to provide us with useful information on suspicious criminal activities in their communities,’’ he said.
Receiving the 11 suspects and items, Lawal assured that the matter would be swiftly investigated, and the outcome made public.
He also assured that the suspects would be arraigned if found culpable of allegations made against them.