The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS), Delta, Commodore Aliyu Sule, said his command had destroyed seven illegal refineries in Oteghele community, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta.
Sule made this known on Tuesday at the Warri Naval Base while speaking to newsmen shortly after the operation.
Sule, who assumed command of the Base in April, also said over 500 metric tonnes of crude oil were burnt in the operation that lasted for about five hours.
The commander urged those engaged in the illicit business to desist from it or face the full wrath of the law.
“This operation is in continuation with the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) zero tolerance on illegalities including crude oil theft in the creeks.
“This is just to send signal to the perpetrators that there will be no vacuum between my tenure and my predecessor’s.
“We got intelligence report that there were illegal refineries in the area and we sent officers to conduct research before carrying out the operation.
“People say unemployment is responsible for the illegal oil bunkering, but I think lack of job should not motivate them to engage in such illegalities,’’ he said.
Sule said the perpetrators were becoming more sophisticated in terms of method and materials they were using, adding that the navy was capable of countering their antics.
“The mode of the illegal oil bunkering is becoming sophisticated and we have to change our strategies to counter it.
“The distance of the hose they use is about three kilometers from the various illegal refineries; you can imagine where they are going to,’’ he said.
Sule said the command would not relent in its efforts at sanitising the waterways under his watch from all forms of illegalities.
He urged operators of the illicit trade to have a rethink and engage in lawful ventures rather than sabotaging the nation’s economy.