Stop destroying seized petroleum products, security agents told

Chairman of the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas facilities, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro, has condemned the incessant destruction of petroleum products seized from vandals by security agencies along the creeks.

Otuaro, who is the state deputy governor, made the comments when he addressed  demonstrators who were protesting against the wanton destruction of petroleum products at Okerenkoko in Warri South-West  Local Government Areas.

The protesters, who carried placards bearing different inscriptions like: “Military, stop polluting our environment with petroleum products seized from Vandals”,  “Military please adopt more holistic way of keeping  seized vandalised products,” “Take seized products to DPMC” among others, called on the federal  and state governments for intervention.

The deputy governor appealed to the people to remain calm,  saying that  the state government had waded into the matter with a view to finding an urgent solution.

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According to him, the destroyed products seized from vandals have ruined the affected communities, even as he assured that there would soon be a national discourse on the issue.

The chairman, Okerenkoko community, Kingsley  Akpos Oturubo, and a youth leader, Simon Bebenimibo, who also spoke on the issue,  appealed to the Federal Government and  security agencies to take seized petroleum products to the Department of Petroleum Resources and Pipeline Products Company and other places for proper storage.

In a related development, a Niger Delta-based environmentalist and national coordinator of Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), Comrade Sheriff Mulade,  has called on the Delta State government to create storage  facilities for crude oil and other petroleum products seized by security operatives in the region.

Mulade made the call at Kokodiagbene community in Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West Local Government Area of the state, during an environment monitoring exercise by CEPEJ.

He lamented that the environment was being further destroyed by security operatives who burnt boats loaded with illegally refined stolen crude oil and other petroleum products, describing it as ahuge economic waste with diverse environmental consequences.

Mulade also claimed that statistics contained in Nigeria Navy’s comprehensive analysis of its performance in the first half of 2019 showed that about 131,085.06 barrels of crude oil and 29,612,202 litres of illegally refined products valued at about N8.4 billion were destroyed by the Nigerian Navy (NN) between January 2018 and June 2019.

He added that 227 illegal refineries, 2,688 storage facilities and 364 wooden boats were also destroyed, while 11 barges and 32 vessels were impounded.

He, however, asserted  that arrests made by security operatives were in line with the Nigeria Navy’s Anti-Crude Oil Theft (COT) and Joint Military Task Force’s (JTF) efforts at curbing the activities of illegal refineries and other related activities.

The CEPEJ boss said the Delta State government has the option of converting the destroyed crude oil and petroleum products into economic fortune that would generate sustainable employment for its unemployed youths.

“The Delta State government should expand its advocacy committee on vandalism of oil and gas facilities by collaborating with environmental rights NGO, international oil companies and the Federal Government to urgently consider building a facility to store crude oil and illicitly acquired seized petroleum products for proper channeling to a refinery to save our environment,” Mulade pleaded.

He said it was important to harness economic benefits of the oil being wasted and the resources being destroyed, by establishing a modular refinery to accommodate these products and refine them.