With Nigerians groaning under the effects of lingering fuel scarcity, the government destroyed more than 400 illegal refineries in three months, a security official said.
The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Bayelsa said it destroyed more than 400 illegal mini refineries operated by oil thieves in the state.
The Bayelsa Commandant of the NSCDC, Mr Desmond Agu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa, the state capital on Sunday that the illegal refineries were destroyed between January and March.
Mr. Agu said that the command now had a gunboat to fortify its operational capacity and had intensified patrols in the coastal settlements and waterways in the state.
He said that the intensified patrols by the command had led to the arrest of ex-militant leader and his gang, whom he said, were being prosecuted.
Agu said that the corps had deployed its personnel to provide security to critical national assets and oil facilities across the state.
“We are on ground to ensure safety and protection of vital oil infrastructure and property within the command.
“The command is determined to deal with the oil thieves and end their illegal businesses.
“We have made some arrests concerning the recent cases of vandalism at Agip’s oil fields in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
“The corps recovered the bodies of the three oil workers that died in the explosion in one of the fields on March 26. We have handed over the bodies to Agip.
“The case has also been handed over to the Bayelsa State Police Command because it involves death and falls outside our mandate”, the NSCDC Commandant said.
Dr Peter Idabor, Director-General, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), had earlier attributed the death of the oil workers to poor safety procedures at the oil field.
Meanwhile, officials of Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Bayelsa and its parent company, Eni, have declined comment on the Easter Sunday’s explosion.
Mr Fillippo Cotalini, Media Relations Manager, Eni, has yet to respond to the request sent to him through e-mail for a reaction on the explosion.