In continuation of the fight against illegal oil bunkering activities in Degema Local Government Area, the Executive Chairman of the LGA, Hon. Michael John Williams, Sunday, raided and set ablaze, some artisanal refining sites, popularly known as kpofire at Oruama-Kiri in Bille Kingdom.
The Council Chairman, who went on the raid in company of some Community members, including chiefs and youths of Bille, as well as a detachment of security operatives, declared zero tolerance to the illicit act in the LGA.
He said government would no longer keep silent and watch, while some group of recalcitrant individuals, commit crimes against the State and humanity in general, through economic sabotage and generating deadly soot, that poses serious health challenge to people of Rivers State and beyond.
The Council Boss, who earlier visited the Palace of the Amanyanabo of Bille Kingdom, HRH King Igbikingeri Ngowari Cornelius Herbert, Agbaniye-Jike XVIII, commended the Monarch and people of Bille for swiftly swinging into action, in sensitizing their people against involving in the illegal activity, in line with the directive, issued to them at the end of the stakeholders meeting between the Council administration and traditional rulers in the LGA, last Tuesday.
He apprised that his visit to the Palace was to intimate the Monarch and his Council of Chiefs about his mission and seek their leave to invade their territory, in search of locations where the kpofire operations were taking place.
“Your Royal Highness, we are not here to kill, arrest or accuse anyone, but we are here, on the mandate of the Governor, to do the needful and stop this illegal activity that is threatening our very existence as humans inhabiting in this grossly polluted environment of ours.
“My father, the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency, Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike, had aptly described this kpofire menace as worse than Boko Haram, because the latter is a known terrorist group, while the former is an invisible and deadly killer.
“If you see the level of degradation in our once flourishing and endowed environment, you will understand the reason why our mothers and fathers can no longer easily get fishes, prawns, shrimps, perewinkles, oysters and other rich seafoods in our nearby creeks, without going far into the ocean.
“I therefore appeal to our people to cooperate with government to end this menace and restore our ecosystem for the benefit of the present and future generations,” Hon. Williams stated.
In his response, the Amanyanabo of Bille Kingdom, HRH King Igbikingeri Ngowari Cornelius Herbert, Agbaniye-Jike XVIII, commended the Council Chairman for courageously leading the fight against the illegal bunkering activities across the LGA, even on a Sunday, praying God to continue to grant him more courage, wisdom and strength to serve the people of DELGA.
The Monarch stated that following the directive given to the traditional rulers, as custodians of their Communities, the people of Bille had already started sensitizing their people and urging whosoever that is involved to stop immediately, as it was not only an economic sabotage against the government, but also very hazardous to people living and doing business within the area.
The traditional ruler, who declared the full support of Bille people to the operation in the area, also disclosed that the community would soon set up an Anti-Kpofire Surveillance Committee, to be headed by the Councillor representing Bille (Ward 16), Hon. Elvis Osima Pretoru Gogo, whose mandate would be to routinely scout the area and report findings to government.
The royal father restated his earlier call on government to revisit the concept of modular refineries as a panacea for the scourge, as according to him, establishing same would not only permanently address the issue, but would also create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths across the troubled Niger Delta region.
The Council Chairman was accompanied on the raid by principal officers of Degema Council, chiefs representing the Bille Council of Chiefs, youths and members of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Bille Clan, and a combined team of Security operatives.
Daerefa-a Christopher Braide
Chief Press Secretary,
Degema Local Government Council