Monday, January 07, 2013

Nigeria JTF, Ex-Militants Destroy 35 Illegal Refineries

JTF, ex-militants destroy 35 illegal refineries in Ondo, Edo, Delta

Sunday, 06 January 2013 20:19 From Niyi Bello, Akure, Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu and Michael Egbejule, Benin City News
Nigerian Guardian

THIRTY-FIVE illegal refineries already abandoned by their operators in the creeks that connect the three states of Ondo, Edo and Delta were set ablaze by security operatives at the weekend.

The action was taken in a joint operation carried out by personnel of the amphibious arm of the Nigeria Army, the Navy, Marine Police and Gallery Security Services, a private concern owned by an ex-militant, Bibopiri Ajube.

Also destroyed by the operatives were 18 local boats and nine barges with which the illegal operators who steal crude oil from pipelines and other oil installations and refine them through unsophisticated means that always leave the environment ecologically ravaged, carry out their nefarious activities.

The Joint Task Force (JTF) under whose auspices the operation targeted at ridding the creeks of criminal economic activities was carried out, was made up of soldiers from the 19th Battalion of the Army in Okitipupa, ratings from the Forward Operational Base of the Navy in Igbokoda and other security agencies.

Last week, officials of the private outfit, which is collaborating with the Federal Government in the maintenance of security in the difficult terrain of the western flank of the Niger Delta region, intercepted five barges that contained 1.65 million litres of stolen crude from pipeline vandals.

The two-day operation, which lasted about two hours each day, took the team to the creeks of Dababilebu, Akitogbo, Adiloseimo, Obontonu and Akina-Zion where most of the illegal facilities were located.

Residents of the communities in the area lamented that the illegal activities of the refineries had further devastated their environment and that all their sources of fresh water had been polluted leaving them with the only option of travelling several kilometres in search of potable water.

They also complained that kerosene produced from the illegal refineries had led to the destruction of many lives and property in the area because of its crude means of processing which made it highly inflammable.

One of the victims of kerosene explosion, Aprebisekumo Epijowori, told the JTF team at Akina-Zion that the locally produced kerosene was responsible for the burns all over his body, which had paralysed one of his legs.

He commended Ajube and the JTF team for their efforts at ridding his areas of oil thieves and pledged to offer instant information whenever the criminals decided to resume their operations.

Ajube who gave N200, 000 instantly to Epijowori to seek medical treatment, appealed to residents of the area to cooperate with the efforts of JTF and his security team aimed at ridding the areas of oil thieves.

A senior army officer commended Ajube’s security outfit for its relentless efforts at ridding the Niger Delta areas of all forms of criminal activities.

He said: “Without the support of the Gallery Security Services, the operation of the JTF would not have been successful because it was the firm that discovered the illegal refineries, the boats and barges being used by the criminals to carry out their acts.”

The army officer promised that the exercise would be a continuous one and vowed that the task force would not stop until the Nigerian water ways and pipelines were safe for legitimate businesses.

‘N1 billion Delta tax revenue missing’ .

Sunday, 06 January 2013 20:26 From Chido Okafor, Warri and Adamu Abuh
Nigerian Guardian

THE alleged disappearance of over N1 billion tax deductions paid by one of the multi-national oil companies, Chevron Nigeria Ltd, through an old generation bank to a new era bank that collects revenue for the government of Delta State has stirred misgivings between the two financial institutions.

Delta State Board of Internal Revenue (DBIR) is striving to trace in which bank’s possession the missing money is.

It was learnt that Chevron mandated her bankers (the old era bank) to transfer the N1 billion to the state government’s coffers through its collecting bank (the new generation institution), but the money which was allegedly paid since December 27, 2012, has not been credited.

Officials of the board told The Guardian that the old bank was to pay the said amount into the state government’s account managed by the new order financial house but as at last Friday, the revenue agency was yet to receive confirmation on the transaction.

This engendered fears at the board as to who is in custody of the fund.

The old bank, The Guardian learnt, is firmly insisting that the money has been successfully transferred into DBIR’s account with the new one, which, however, insisted that it had not received the fund.

“This is a big problem. How can the two banks be confused in this kind of situation. I am beginning to wonder that somebody somewhere is trying to play games with this issue but I know that they will not get out of this matter so easily because I trust our Chairman is going to go all out to ensure that the banks are sanctioned,” a source at DBIR said

DBIR’s Executive Chairman, Joel-Onowakpo Thomas, yesterday confirmed the development, saying: “It is true that the over N1 billion paid by the multi-national oil company is missing between the two banks.

“We have been trying to fish out which among the two banks that is holding to our funds. It is because of circumstances like this that warranted the board’s several stakeholders meeting with our collecting banks warning them against this unethical banking practice.

“I have said time without number that, what is being practised is not banking, but providing the breeding ground for monumental fraud and I am calling on the CBN and the other regulatory agencies to investigate this particular case and sanction the erring banks accordingly.”

The DBIR boss said he was convinced beyond doubt that the actions of the banks were deliberate in order to improve their cash position for their year end as required by new Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regulations. He implored the CBN not to encourage such actions if it is really desirous of knowing the healthy and professional banks.

He added: “I feel it is a breeding ground for fraud. If a prominent tax payer like Chevron can be so subjected to tracing, what will happen to millions of small tax payers whose payment patterns are not defined? When we are through with who is holding the funds, be rest assured that, the particular bank will be publicly sanctioned. I also expect CBN to take proactive action on this.”

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