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When will illegal refineries become legal as Navy destroys 150 in 7 months?
Recently, the Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ben Ayade opened up on what can be adjudged as official economic development delay of some regions as he decried the silence of the federal government in responding to his request to explore, drill and refine petroleum from new oil fields discovered in his state.
But the irony is that whereas his request has spent two years at the presidential Villa without attention, the same presidency has been spending hard earned national resources to search for hydrocarbons in the north.
Before now, federal government had assured oil communities of issuance of modular refineries licenses since last year during the visit of the Vice President, but nothing has come out of the hanging promises till date.
Industry analysts had over the months called on the government to regularize the activities of the so called illegal refinery operators so that they can begin to add value legitimately to the economy and help in resolving the teething fuel scarcity crisis.
That is yet to be made a reality even as only weekend, the Nigerian Navy Eastern Naval Command, Calabar, says it destroyed no fewer than 150 illegal refineries between June 2017 and January 2018.
The Command’s out gone Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Rear Admiral Victor Adedipe, disclosed this at the handing over ceremony to his successor Rear Admiral Matthew Emuekpere on Friday in Calabar.
Adedipe said the illegal refineries were destroyed within the Command’s area of operations, which included Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states.
The out gone FOC said the success was due to constant patrol by the personnel in the creeks, adding that the Command also repelled the hijack of several ships.
According to him, “During my time, we were able to shut down 150 illegal refineries within the command. This was due to aggressive anti-crude and illegal bunkering patrol.
“In the area of welfare, with very strong support from the Naval Headquarters, the Command was able to add value to its barracks.
“I must appreciate other security agencies, our host communities and the governments of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states for their support and I solicit the same support for my successor.
“I also acknowledge the civilian staff that served in the Command and I urge them to continue with the same level of loyalty, commitment and support for the new FOC,’’ Rear Admiral Victor Adedipe said.