GOVERNOR Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, yesterday, declared war on artisanal refineries operatives in the state, saying no reasonable government would allow their activities better known as Kpofire, which induces hazardous soot across the state.
Wike, during a raid on Kpofire sites in forests of Ogbodo, Ikwerre LGA and Ibaa, Emohua LGA in company of Rivers Commissioner of Police, Eboka Friday, and other security chiefs, said no blackmail or sentiment would stop his resolve to rid the state of illegal refineries.
He said: “They can’t be doing this and be killing my people. No reasonable government will allow that. And I can tell you with all due respect, we will take this matter very seriously.
“Look at how, everyday, in your house, you see the soot. I mean, how can you allow that? So, this one that we can solve, we will solve it. We have assured the people of Rivers State, we will fight this issue to the last until I leave office.”
He directed the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor, SAN, to take over the casefiles of illegal crude oil refinery operators already arrested by the police.
He said: “Attorney-General, all these matters with the police, you have to retrieve the files so that you can prosecute the matters on our own. I don’t want any compromise anywhere.
“And then too, it will not be in the ministry. You have to constitute a legal team. Go and get our friends all over the country, so that we can prosecute those cases.
“It is a serious matter. I’m going to take head on. It is a war. It is not poor people doing this, they’re a cartel. You must go and arrest these people; Chief W. J. Wocha, you must arrest Fubara Ohaka and Chief Promise Ezekwe. You must arrest them.
“It doesn’t matter how highly placed you are, be you a paramount ruler, in fact, any traditional ruler that is involved, pick him for me. Let him understand that the law does not respect anybody.”
To Emohua council chairman, Dr Chidi Lloyd, the governor directed location of residences where processed kpofire are stored and let the people ascertain their sources, adding that confronting this havoc posed by kpofire is to ensure health of Rivers people was not further hampered by such activities.
He charged Lloyd: “If not, our people will continue to die. Even you are not safe from related sicknesses like cancer. All the products in the houses, you must go after them, they must tell you where they got the products. Enough is enough.
“Look at what is happening. I want to live. So, we must stop these illegal refinery activities. And I have told the Federal Government, if you’re not willing to do anything, don’t promise people anything.”