The Nigeria Navy says it has uncovered an illegal crude oil market in Rivers State where oil thieves trade adulterated petroleum products.
The Commander, Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, Commodore Suleiman Ibrahim, took newsmen to the market located at Casthorn Channel, near Obumakiri community in Degema Local Government Area Wednesday.
Ibrahim told the journalists that the discovery was made following the deployment of troops and military assets as part of its operation “Dakatar Da Barawo” which means “stop the thief” in Hausa language.
According to him, the discovery was a major victory for the federal government considering the current dwindling crude oil production in the country.
“The market square was discovered following the launch of “Operation Dakatar Da Barawo” on April 1.
“The over 50 square kilometre market was used by oil thieves to illegally refine stolen crude oil before it was discovered and cleared by troops.”
Ibrahim said upon learning about the existence of the market the navy deployed intelligence to uncover where the operators sourced their crude from.
“Consequently, our tactical Riverine Squadron on Tuesday identified the source of the crude oil with the aid of aerial surveillance.
“On arrival at the market, we discovered that the oil thieves were stealing the crude from a manifold nearby,” he added.
Ibrahim said that troops were unable to spot operators and workers at the facility as they fled the scene on sighting advancing naval gunboats.