Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the 23 local government chairmen to provide a comprehensive list of illegal refineries and their operators within their jurisdiction.
Wike gave the ultimatum at a meeting with the council chairmen and heads of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Police, the Directorate of State Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps at Government House on Friday.
The governor challenged the council chairmen to prove they were not complicit in the noxious business that had continued to threaten the health of Rivers people and the national economy.
The governor stated that as a responsible government, it would be unwise for them to fold their hands and do nothing to safeguard residents of the state from the death forced upon them by criminally-minded operators of artisanal refineries.
Special Assistant to the Governor on Media, Kelvin Ebiri, stated this in a statement released to journalists in Port Harcourt.
“Now, every council chairman must go and identify where illegal refineries are taking place. If you identify one, you get N2m. So, go and identify as many as you can.
“I will pay N2m for each one. And I am going to fight against this. Our people are dying and we owe our people the responsibility to protect them, to save them from death they never caused.
“So, you must, and you’re given 48 hours to go and identify all illegal refineries sites, and those who are in charge of them,” Wike stated.
The governor emphasised that any of the council chairmen who was afraid to join in the fight against the criminals operating the illegal refineries should be ready to resign.
Wike, however, frowned on security agencies for the role some of their personnel had played in aiding and providing cover for the operators of the illegal refineries in the state.
The governor urged the State Police Commissioner, Eboka Friday, to redeploy out of the state a particular DPO in Emohua Local Government Area operating an illegal refinery in the area.
“It’s unfortunate for this country how security people will be involved in illegal bunkering. I can’t believe it. Mr CP, I thank you for transferring the DPO at Rumuji, who owns a refinery. But the man must leave here, not transferred. He must leave this state.
“I can’t be governor here and security man owns an illegal refinery. No, it is not possible…the man has to go. Take him to wherever they allow bunkering,” Wike stated.
He directed the CP to immediately arrest Chief WJ Wocha, Fubara Ohaka, and Chief Promise Ezekwe, who have been fingered for operating illegal refineries deep inside the forest of Ibaa community in Emohua Local Government Area.
The governor further urged the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Rivers State command, to immediately transfer its personnel in charge of vandalization of pipelines in the State.
“Transfer the man, and tell him to leave. He is a complete saboteur. I mean, how can security men be the ones involved in this? What kind of country are we?”