Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has ordered the shutdown of illegal crude oil refining sites in the state with immediate effect.
In his new year message released on Saturday by his spokesman, Kelvin Ebiri, the governor directed council chairmen and community leaders to report those behind illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities to his office for prosecution.
The move, Wike stated, has become necessary to contain the menace of soot pollution which has continued to endanger public health in the state.
This is even as he lamented that despite bringing the issue to the attention of the Federal Government on numerous occasions, nothing has been done to address the situation.
“Since the federal security agencies have largely refused to stop the illegal crude oil refining activities in the state, we have no option than to take necessary measures to tackle this particular and direct challenge to our collective health and survival by ourselves,” Wike said.
“Consequently, I have directed the chairman of Port Harcourt city local government council to go after all the illegal crude oil refining sites along Creek road and adjourning areas of the city and shut them down with immediate effect.
“Furthermore, all local government chairmen are directed to work with community leaders to locate and identify those behind all illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities and report to my office for further action.”
There has been a recent increase in activities of illegal refiners and bunkerers in the oil-rich state, a situation that has triggered fear of a likely surge of deadly black soot in the atmosphere.
Away from the soot pollution, Wike reiterated his administration’s commitment in ridding the state of all forms of criminality in 2022.
He noted that crime has been at very low rates in Rivers State and the citizens felt safer and more secure last year than in the previous years.
According to him, the state government identified and destroyed most of the shanties that served as safe havens and hideouts for criminals.
“To consolidate on the gains of the dislodgement and dislocation exercises, and make the State even safer and more secure, we have decided to demolish all shanties and makeshift structures in identified crime hotspots in Port Harcourt Township and the Illabuchi areas of Diobu from the second week of January 2022.
“Those rebuilding the shanties we had demolished at Eleme or attempting to resume illegal trading activities at the closed Oginigba slaughter have one week to vacate or be arrested and charged to court.
“Additionally, we have discovered that most vacant plots or uncompleted buildings in the Old and New Government Reservation Areas (GRA) and some other parts of Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas have been hijacked and are now inhabited by criminal elements who are daily constituting a menace to public safety,” Wike added.