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Governor Otti prescribes urgent action against Crude Oil Thieves, Illegal Refiners, describes them as Enemies of State

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Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, has described those who engage in the stealing and illegal refining of the nation’s crude oil as enemies of the state and should be treated as such.

Consequently, Governor Otti urged members of the Joint Task Force South South, Operation Delta Safe, to intensify their fight against oil theft and illegal operation of refineries in the State.

The Governor expressed this view on Friday, when he received a delegation of the sector commanders of the Joint Task Force team, charged with the responsibility to secure oil and gas operations in 10 states of the South South, South East, and South West.

He condemned the activities of illegal refiners in Abia and warned that they would face legal prosecution if caught.

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

“Be they in Aba or in Ukwa or Port Harcourt or Bayelsa or any of the other 10 states, where you operate. The long arm 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,” Governor Otti assured.

He implored the task force to also work to secure the Abia Innovation and Industrial Park (AIIP) at Owaza, in Ukwa West and assured them of the support of the State Government in terms of logistics and intelligence sharing to make their assignment easier.

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Governor Otti, while describing security as a top priority of his government, emphasised that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of insecurity.

He pointed out that citizens of Abia State had enjoyed relative peace within the last one year, until the incident at Obikabia Junction, on Thursday, May 30, where five soldiers of the Nigerian army were brutally assassinated by criminals, adding that government was working round the clock to unravel the perpetrators and consequently bring them to book.

The Commander, Joint Task Force South South Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral John Okeke, said he was in Abia to familiarise with the State as one of their coverage areas in the fight against oil theft and illegal refineries among the oil producing states.

Rear Admiral Okeke, who used the opportunity to acquaint the Governor of activities of the task force, said that part of their mandate is to curb illegal activities in the oil and gas sector.

“The Federal Government thought it wise to come up with Joint Task Force South South Operation Delta Safe with a mandate to protect oil and gas infrastructure and 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,” Okeke said.

He assured that the task force would collaborate with the State Government as well as other security agencies in the area of information sharing, adding that they were determined to curb illicit activities within their areas of operation.

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Rear Admiral Okeke solicited for the support of the State Government in the area of logistics to enable them achieve their mandate.

KAZIE UKO
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
Abia State
Government House, Umuahia
June 8, 2024.