The Nigerian Navy at the weekend intensified the destruction of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta, with the activation of a fresh onslaught, codenamed operation ‘Ex Toru-Gbown (waterways protection)’ in the region.

During the exercise which had been on for four days, at least a hundred finished illegal refineries were destroyed, while several new ones just springing up were demolished by a swamp buggy.

Commodore Felix Esekhile, Commander Nigerian Naval Ship, NNS Soroh, Yenagoa, who led the troops during one of the operations at Okarki, a border town between Bayelsa and Rivers States, said the navy was returning to the large expanse in the creeks for the fifth time this year.

He said with the new facilities, including speed boats acquired by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, the fight against pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft had been ramped up.

He warned all those still involved in the illegal business to exit the area of responsibility of the command, vowing that the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, had directed that all the illegal refineries should be flushed out.

Commodore Esekhile added that his area of responsibility had made the entire space uncomfortable for the oil thieves, which accounts for why they are moving to the outskirts of the state.

He disclosed that the navy had also discovered massive production of illegal fuel in Oluasiri, where hundreds of crude oil cooking drums were destroyed.