From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
The Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Engr Samuel Nwanosike has urged the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) to cut off all illegal lines constructed by oil thieves at Ogbodo Community of Isiokpo.
The LGA boss also urged Shell to create military checkpoints so as to put to stop illegal oil activities in the area.
Nwanosike stated this when a delegation from the SPDC, Rivers State Ministry of Environment and National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) paid him a visit at his office in Isiokpo in order to have on the spot assessment of the illegal oil bunkery activity going on at Ogbodo.
He said: “As far as we are concerned, this visit will mean well for us as a people if after your visit you shut down your main line and cut off all those illegal lines attached to your main line and create military checkpoint in that spot.
“Because once you do that, it is going to be a win situation for both the community and SPDC because you are losing revenue from the crude they are stealing and the inconvenience of the community being on your neck over the devastation of their environment based on the activity will reduce”.
While saying that they do not want to find anything illegal oil activities around that environment, Nwanosike narrated that his government has taken some moves to crush the already locally built refinery with the help of the military, Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
He noted that while ensuring that the activity is nipped in the bud, the oil thieves decided to play smart by employing technologies to lay pipes through valves to the sea side where they load the crude oil to other places.
The Ikwerre Council Chairman revealed that inferno occurred due to the abandonment of the site by the thieves when he and his team visited the site while they were operating.
According to him, “Luck ran out of them when we heard information that they were on the spot and we try to visit them at the point in that site. So, they quickly abandoned the site and took to their heels.
“So, crude was just pouring into the river, pouring into the community and all of a sudden fire just came up.
“So if that fire that came up there was not tamed, it would have been that the entire Ogbodo Community would have been wiped out”.
He called on SPDC to come to the aide of the people so that posterity can judge everyone right.
Engr Wobutam Chimezie, speaking on behalf of SPDC, asserted that they came to Ikwerre LGA as a follow-up overfly the Chairman of Ikwerre LGA and government regulators had with their company on Friday.
He thanked the council boss for his concern and efforts towards the oil spill and environment, adding that they would work together in order to keep the environment the way it is supposed to be.
Engr Chimezie stated that their findings would be presented to the management of his company for proper action.
On his part, Mr Alexander Igwegbu, a staff of NOSDRA and Government Regulator, commended Nwanosike for his good efforts, saying that “we would have a very clean environment in Nigeria if other LGA Chairmen emulate the Ikwerre LGA Chairman”.