Soot crisis: Wike makes broadcast, declares 19 illegal refineries kingpins wanted

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has declared 19 persons wanted for operating illegal crude oil refining sites, responsible for soots prevalent in the state.

The governor stated that following his 2022 New Year message, which outlined measures to tackle the soot, the state Task Force on Illegal Street Trading raided some illegal crude oil refining sites in Port Harcourt and arrested a number of persons.

The governor has also directed the Rivers State Head of Service to query one Mr. Temple Amakiri, a director in the Ministry of Energy, for abetting bunkering activities and hand him over to the police for investigation and possible prosecution.

Wike, in a statewide broadcast, yesterday, said the government had resolved to tackle the soot crisis by destroying and closing down all identified illegal crude oil refining sites and activities in the state.

Recall that report by a technical committee set up by the state government to investigate causes of soot in the state three years ago disclosed that major causes of the soot, black particles that pollute the air, are activities of illegal refiners and complicity of security agents, among others.

The governor, in the broadcast, said: “The following persons, who have been identified as kingpins of bunkering and illegal crude oil refining activities in their communities, have been declared wanted and directed to report themselves to the state Police Command, to whom we have already passed their details to:

“Mr. Azubike Amadi, OSPAC Commander, Ogbogoro community and Chairman of Akpor Central OSPAC; Mr. India of Rumuolumeni community and Chairman of Oil Bunkering Association in Akpor Kingdom; Mr. Okey who is in charge of oil bunkering in Rumupareli; Mr. Anderson, who is in charge of oil bunkering activities in Ogbogoro community; Amadi Gift of Ogbogoro community; Azeruowa of Ogbogoro community; and Kingsley Egbula, also of Ogbogoro community.

“Also declared wanted are the following persons, who are alleged to be in charge of oil bunkering activities in Isiokpo community: Mr. Kemkom Azubike, Mr. Mezu Wabali, Mr. Chigozi Amadi, Mr. Opurum Owhondah, Mr. Bakasi Obodo, Mr. Opus, Mr. Galaxi Mas, Mr. Chioma, Mr. Ogondah, Mr. Soldier, Mr. Chefo, and Nkasi.

“We have also identified those behind illegal bunkering activities in Okrika communities, Port Harcourt township, Rivers South-East and Rivers South-West Senatorial districts and their names would be soon published and declared wanted, if they fail to voluntarily report to the police.”

The governor urged residents to report those involved in illegal crude oil refineries and other damnable activities to task forces set up at the state and local government levels for immediate action.

Wike also reaffirmed the total ban on the use of motorcycles in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt councils, which was necessitated by the threat they posed to the security of lives and property.

He said: “Any person or corporate entity that requires the use of motorcycle for any lawful purposes must therefore first apply to the Office of the Governor for permit and proper documentation of the operational details and particulars of both the motorcycle and designated rider(s).

“Against this background, we are hereby issuing the final warning to all those operating motorcycles shuttles and or hawking foreign exchange along Birabi Street, Hotel Presidential, GRA junction by Zenith Bank up to Tombia Street to immediately leave or be arrested and prosecuted.”

The governor accused traditional leadership, including members of community development committees and youth leaders of Rumuola, Rumuogba and Okoro-nu-odo communities of collecting money from vendors and allowing street trading activities around and under the flyovers.

“Consequently, I hereby direct the traditional leadership of Rumuola, Rumuogba and Okoro-nu-odo communities to immediately stop all street trading activities around, in or under the flyovers in their respective domains or be deposed, arrested and prosecuted.

“Similarly, the traditional leadership of Rumuwoji Mgbuduku, Obiekwe, Nkpolu-Oroworokwo, Abali, Rebisi, Rumukalagbor-Oroworokwo and Ezimgbu communities are hereby directed to enforce the ban and ensure that no form of trading takes place around and under the flyovers located in their communities.”

Wike also placed a total ban on the use of umbrella and table trading stands in old and new GRAs of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City, Eleme councils.

According to him, government has credible evidence that most of the supposed traders in front of houses are informants that monitor and pass information on the daily movement of very important persons to their criminal collaborators.

Wike frowned on the failure of the Rumuokurushe traditional leadership to honour the terms of their undertaking not to allow any form of street trading on the Rumuokurushe market.

“Unfortunately, the Rumuokurushe traditional leadership has apparently failed to comply with or enforce this condition in that market and government will not hesitate to again shut it down if the ongoing breach continues unabated,” he warned.


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