Anambra- A joint operation of the Nigerian Army and Navy has discovered 23 illegal small `refineries’ on the River Niger coastline in Ogbakuba Community in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra.
Maj.-Gen. Ashimiyu Olaniyi, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu, on Monday expressed surprise at the level of the illicit activities on the River Niger.
Olaniyi said that the army would not rest in its onus of stopping illegal refineries and bunkering activities within the South-East and South-South.
``Chief of Army Staff has directed that this activities and other crime within the coastline and creeks of the River Niger must be stopped.
``The Nigerian Army will not rest in its duties to put an end to bunkering. And there will be zero tolerance of such activities and other crime committed in the River Niger and its creeks,’’ he said.
Earlier, Lt.-Col. Bayode Adetoro, the Commanding Officer, 14 Field Engineer Regiment, Onitsha, who led the operations, said that the feat was achieved through the strategic mandate of the engineer’s regiment and assistance of the navy.
``Engineer soldiers from 14 Field Engineer Regiment were on patrol, yesterday at about 4 pm in the evening around Atani area and they intercepted a boat that was about to sink.
``They tried to rescue the boat, to salvage the boat; but it went down.
``When it sank, we called the navy to assist us, but it was late in the night. We decided that we start the clean-up in the morning on its recovery.
``By the time we got there this morning, most of the drums are gone; so we decided to search the entire area and in the process of searching, we discovered these refineries,’’ he said.
Capt. Abdullahi Ahmed, Commanding Officer of Naval Out-post Ogbaru, near Onitsha, said that the army and the navy would continue to collaborate to stamp-out bunkering in the River Niger waterways.
``We will continue on this joint operation since it is yielding fruit and our country is better for it,’’ Ahmed said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that officers and men of the army and navy had taken over the entire areas.