Security operatives in Nigeria have destroyed more than 15 illegal refinery facilities used by some youths in the Niger Delta area for crude oil refinning.
A military spokesman, Major Abubakar Abdullahi, on Thursday, said the destruction of the refineries was in line with the mandate given the joint military task force to maintain law and order in the Niger Delta region.
He disclosed that in a recent clash between the task force and some people, believed to be crude oil thieves, unspecified number of soldiers lost their lives.
“It was in the bid to ward off the attackers that our men stumbled on the illegal refineries and destroyed them”, the military spokesman said.
Abdullahi confirmed that the authorities had some information showing that there are more than 200 illegal refineries in the region, which assist in processing stolen crude oil.
But community leaders argue that the continuous destruction of the mini refineries runs contrary to the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s promise at his visit to the region, in February 2017 that government would issue licences to modular refineries , through which the so-called illegal refiners would be accommodated.
A traditional leader in Warri, Chief Idiyon Whisky, said: “while nobody supports illegality, nobody will as well supports continuous promotion of tension in the Niger Delta area.
“Therefore, government policy on modular refinery scheme being allowed to come on stream is the best we can ask for.
“You will be surprised to see the number of people that will apply for that.”
But with the notion that Nigeria is losing about $1.5 billion yearly through oil theft, it looks unlikely that the modular refinery policy will see the light of the day.
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