With the declaration of 19 suspected kingpins wanted for operating illegal refineries, Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike at the weekend stepped up the war against soot in the state, especially in Port Harcourt.
The governor also directed the Rivers State Head of Service to query Mr. Temple Amakiri, a Director in the Ministry of Energy, for backing illegal bunkering activities.
He ordered that Amakiri should be handed over to the police for further investigation and possible prosecution.
In a statewide broadcast yesterday, Wike said the government was resolved to tackle the soot pandemic by destroying and closing down all identified illegal crude oil refining sites and related activities in the state.
He said following his 2022 message outlining measures to tackle the soot menace, the state Task Force on Illegal Street Trading raided some illegal refining sites in the capital city and made some arrests.
The governor said: “Furthermore, the following persons who have been identified as kingpins of bunkering and illegal crude oil refining activities in their communities have been declared wanted and directed to report themselves to the State Police Command, to whom we have already passed their details.
“Mr. Azubike Amadi, OSPAC Commander, Ogbogoro community and Chairman of Akpor Central OSPAC; Mr. India, of Rumuolumeni community and Chairman of Oil bunkering Association in Akpor kingdom; Mr. Okey who is in charge of Oil bunkering in Rumupareli;
Mr. Anderson, who is in charge of oil bunkering activities in Ogbogoro community; Amadi Gift of Ogbogoro community; Azeruowa of Ogbogoro community; and Kingsley Egbula, also of Ogbogoro community.
“Also declared wanted are the following persons who are alleged to be in charge of illegal oil bunkering in Isiokpo community: Mr. Kemkom Azubike, Mr. Mezu Wabali, Mr. Chigozi Amadi, Mr. Opurum Owhondah, Mr. Bakasi Obodo ,Mr. Opus, Mr. Galaxi Mas, Mr. Chioma, Mr. Ogondah, Mr. Soldier, Mr. Chefo, and Nkasi.
“We have also identified those behind illegal bunkering in Okrika communities, Port Harcourt Township, Rivers South-East and Rivers South-West Senatorial Districts and their names would be soon published and declared wanted, if they fail to voluntarily report to the police.”
He urged residents to report those involved in illegal crude oil refineries and other criminal activities to the agencies already set up at the state and local government levels for immediate action.
Wike reaffirmed the total ban on the use of motorcycles in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt councils, saying it was necessitated by the collective threat it posed to the security of lives and property.
He said: “Any person or corporate entity that requires the use of motorcycle for any lawful purposes must therefore first apply to the office of the Governor for permit and proper documentation of the operational details and particulars of both the motorcycle and designated rider(s).
“Against this background, we are hereby issuing the final warning to all those operation motorcycles shuttles and or hawking foreign exchange along Birabi Street, Hotel Presidential, GRA junction by Zenith Bank up to Tombia Street to immediately leave or be arrested and prosecuted.”
The governor accused the traditional leadership, including members of community development committees and youth leaders of Rumuola, Rumuogba and Okoro-nu-odo communities of collecting money from vendors and allowing street trading activities around and under the flyovers.
Wike said: “Consequently, I hereby direct the traditional leadership of Rumuola, Rumuogba and Okoro-nu-odo communities to immediately stop all street trading activities around, in or under the flyovers in their respective domains or be deposed, arrested and prosecuted.
“Similarly, the traditional leadership of Rumuwoji Mgbuduku, Obiekwe, Nkpolu-Oroworokwo, Abali, Rebisi, Rumukalagbor-Oroworokwo and Ezimgbu communities are hereby directed to enforce the ban and ensure that no form of trading takes place around and under the flyovers located in their communities.”
The governor also placed a ban on the use of umbrella and table trading stands in the entire old and new GRAs of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City, Eleme councils.
He said government had credible evidence that most of the traders in front of houses were informants monitoring and passing vital details of daily movements of very important persons to their criminal collaborators.
The governor frowned at the failure of the Rumuokurushe traditional leadership to honour the terms of their undertaking not to allow any form of street trading on the Rumuokurushe market.
“Unfortunately, the Rumuokurushe traditional leadership has apparently failed to comply with or enforce this condition in that market and Government will not hesitate to again shut it down if the ongoing breach continues unabated,” he said.