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NAF destroys 13 illegal refineries, seven Cotonou boats in Rivers


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No fewer than thirteen illegal refining sites and seven Cotonou boats have been destroyed by the operatives of the Nigerian Air Forces during an operation in Rivers State.

This development was disclosed on Sunday in a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, AVM Edward Gabkwet who stated that the service also said J-5 buses attempting to siphon suspected crude oil product from surface tanks were dispersed.

Gabkwet said, “Between 18-22 June 2024, the Air Component of Operation Delta Safe destroyed 13 illegal refining sites and seven Cotonou boats as well as dispersed five J-5 buses attempting to siphon suspected crude oil products from surface tanks.

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“Some of the illegal sites were discovered near Imo River on 18 June 2024 with seven overhead tanks, which were subsequently destroyed while several suspected bunkers were seen fleeing.”

In a separate operation conducted in Wilcourt in Rivers State, Gabkwet said an illegal site canoe filled with crude oil, and gunboats were destroyed.

He said, “Air strikes were also extended to Wilcourt in Rivers State on 19 June 2024 after an illegal site and canoe filled with illegally refined products, as well as some gunboats, were seen. Similarly, following intelligence of some illegal refining sites located about 6km from Tunu in Bayelsa State, the aircrew proceeded to the location to identify and destroy the site, a task carried out with the utmost precision.

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“Another significant strike undertaken by the air component was carried out on 22 June 2024, when the crew spotted five J5 buses, probably reconfigured into mini tankers, at the bank of Imo River attempting to siphon illegally refined products. Amazed at this change of tactics by these economic saboteurs, the crew did not hesitate to immediately destroy the illegal refining sites feeding the buses. The J5 buses were later seen dispersed with some taking cover under trees to avoid detection.”

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Gabkwet said improved intelligence and enhanced air-to-ground were responsible for the feats recorded against oil thieves.

He said, “Air strikes against economic saboteurs and oil thieves have continued to record the expected outcomes majorly due to improved intelligence, enhanced air-to-ground coordination, and most importantly, due to NAF’s improved agility and resilience. These operations will be sustained until the activities of these saboteurs are reduced to the barest minimum.”