Governor Nyesom Wike of River State on Thursday visited illegal crude oil refining sites a day after security operatives arrested 19 suspected illegal refinery operators.
Wike visited the illegal sites in Ogbodo community forest in Ikwerre Local Government Area and Ibaa community forest in Emohua Local Government Area of the state.
Speaking with reporters at the sites, Wike vowed to punish the suspects for causing the soot pollution in the state and promised to fight the menace causing death and illnesses to the residents.
He said: “They can’t be doing this and killing my people. No reasonable government will allow that. And I can tell you with all due respect that we will take this matter very seriously.
“Look at how every day in your house, you see soot. I mean, how can you allow that? So, this one that we can solve, we will solve it. We have assured the people of Rivers state that we will fight this matter to the last until I leave office.”
The governor blamed the federal government for failing on its promise of setting up modular refineries in the state which has led to criminals establishing illegal refineries.
“I have said to the federal government, if you’re not willing to do anything, don’t promise people anything. You told them that you will do something, how can you promise modular refineries? What I’m talking about is the safety of Rivers people. That is more important to me,” he said.
Wike also directed the state Attorney-General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Zacchaeus Adangor, to immediately prosecute suspected illegal refineries operators arrested by the police.
He said confronting the illegal activities will not be easy but his administration will approach it like a war using every legal backing, adding that his government will clamp down on culprits no matter how highly placed the perpetrators are.
He said: “Attorney-General, all these matters with the police, you have to retrieve the files so that you can prosecute the matters on your own. I don’t want any compromise anywhere.
“It will not be on the ministry. You have to constitute a legal team. Go and get our friends all over the country so that we can execute this prosecution to the last.
“It is a serious matter. And I’m going to take it head-on. In fact, it is a war. It is not poor people doing this, they’re a cartel. You must go and arrest these people; Chief W. J. Wocha, you must arrest Fubara Ohaka, and Chief Promise Ezekwe. You must arrest them.
“It doesn’t matter how highly placed you are. If you like, be the paramount ruler. In fact, any traditional ruler that is involved, pick him for me. Let him understand that the law does not respect anybody.”
This article was originally published on Naija News
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