Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has commended the security agencies for bursting illegal oil bunkering syndicates operating in the State, describing the effort as a major breakthrough.
He said by uprooting members of the syndicate from their base and dismantling their illegal refineries, the security operatives are helping to restore confidence in those doing genuine businesses and contributing to the development of the society.
The Governor spoke when he visited the headquarters of the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) in Owerri on Monday to assess the quantity of petroleum products seized from the suspects as well as the persons caught by the security operatives in relation to the oil bunkering and illegal refining of crude.
The Governor noted that illegal oil bunkering and refineries has of late been on the increase, regretting that the activities have caused serious economic dent on the Federal Government and by extension, the State Governments revenue.
The Governor said: “The consequences of these illegal practices have been that the federal revenue has gone down so much, the State revenue, also by extension, has equally gone down.”
The Governor said that the offence of illegal oil bunkering and refining is a very serious one, noting that “apart from being a national economic sabotage it has not helped matters in the determined efforts to reduce crime in the southern part of the country.”
Governor Uzodimma recalled that oil companies have of late bore the brunt of the nefarious activities of the operators of illegal refineries and those vandalizing oil pipelines and stealing crude oil in Nigeria.
He therefore reassured that “Government will do her best to continue to go against those in the illegal business to help conserve Federal Government revenue and by extension, that of the State, and as well bring sanity to the operating environment of oil companies in Nigeria.”
He expressed joy that so far the efforts of government and the security agencies in partnering to sanitize the environment against crime and criminality is yielding positive result.
The Governor pointed out that members of the syndicate were “caught on their various places of operations where they were practicing their activities on the various illegal deport they established for the refined oil.”
He explained that the value of what was found on members of the gang in terms of naira and kobo is huge and runs into ” hundreds of millions of naira.”
“The reassuring good news is that the culprits have confessed to the crime because they were caught in the act,” the Governor explained.
The Governor therefore thanked the security agencies “for a job well done” and enjoined them “not to relent”
He also urged the public to be vigilant and report any case of illegal practice “be it in oil or other security breaches to the security agencies for prompt action.”