Otti calls for crackdown on oil thieves, illegal refinery operators


Governor Alex Otti of Abia State

By Ihechinyere Chigemeri-Uwom

Gov. Alex Otti has called for increased crackdown on oil theft and illegal operation of refineries in Abia and other states.

The Abia State Governor who described illegal refineries and other activities, as enemies of the state spoke when he received the Joint Taskforce Southsouth Operation Delta on a familiarisation visit in Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of the state.

Otti said the crackdown would help protect the state’s resources and foster economic stability.

The Abia governor expressed displeasure over the activities of illegal refineries in the state, and warned that perpetrators of such activities would be made to face legal repercussions.

Otti urged the taskforce to treat operators of illegal refineries as enemies of the state.

“Those that operate illegal refineries and other activities, those are the enemies of the state and should be treated as such.

“Whether they are in Aba or in Ukwa or Port Harcourt or Bayelsa or any of the other 10 states where you operate, the long arms of the government must be made to catch up with them.

“For us, we do not support any illegality by anybody in any form.

“You can take it for granted that we as a government will give you all the support to carry out your operation here,” Otti said.

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He also called on the Taskforce to also work to secure the Abia Innovation and Industrial Park (AIIP) at Owaza, in Ukwa West Local Government Area.

Otti said that the state government would support the taskforce in the area of logistics and intelligence sharing to make its assignment easier.

According to Otti, security remains a top priority in his administration because no meaningful development could take place in an atmosphere of insecurity.

Earlier, the Commander of the Taskforce, Rear Admiral John Okeke, said the team was in Abia to familiarise with the state as one of their areas of operations in the fight against oil theft and illegal activities within the oil bearing states.

Okeke said that part of their mandate was focused on curbing illegal activities in the oil and gas sector in Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Imo, Ondo, Anambra, Delta and Edo.

“The Federal Government thought it wise to come up with Joint Taskforce South South Operation Delta Safe with a mandate to protect oil and gas infrastructure and stem security challenges in the Niger Delta.

The Taskforce also has the mandate to stop militancy, sea robbery, crude oil theft and other forms of militancy that could impact negatively on the economic activities, with emphasis on the oil and gas sector,” he said.

Okeke expressed the willingness of the Taskforce to collaborate with the government to curb illicit activities within their areas of operation.

He appealed to the government for logistics support to enable the Taskforce to achieve its mandate.


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