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Rivers: Navy deploy troops to fight oil thieves

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The Nigerian Navy has begun deployment of troops in Rivers State for its special operation tagged ‘Operation Rivers Sweep’.

Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral James Oluwole, spoke on Wednesday after commissioning accommodation quarters for troops at the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder in Port Harcourt.

Oluwole said the development was to fight against pipeline vandalism, illegal oil bunkering and sea piracy within the state.

His words, “Operation Rivers Sweep was activated on January 7 (2017) with objective to stem the tide on increasing and disturbing reports of illegal bunkering in Onne general area.

“Over some months now, we have discovered that lots of illegal refineries are operating within the area with stealthily and specially designed dug-in canoes moving stolen petroleum products.

“The supply chain starts from the illegal refineries which transport the illegally produced crude oil from dug-in canoes to bigger vessels that moves the product outside Nigeria by sea.

“The ongoing operation will discover and destroy illegal refineries and fight other maritime crimes. Operation Rivers Sweep, thus is focused on having a coordinated and well planned operation different from the routine patrols ongoing at our operational bases level.

“The battle against oil thieves was built on a tripartite arrangement, which involves surveillance, enforcement and operation. However, enforcement does not reside with the navy because there are agencies that area statutorily empowered to do that.

“We have done our job when we hand over investigation to agencies that are saddled with the responsibility of prosecuting the suspects.”

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