Nigerian Navy on Monday said it destroyed 7,378 illegal refineries and 908 canoes in the last six months of 2012.
Within the period also, the service said it arrested over 40 vessels and destroyed many barges used for crude oil theft.
Presenting a paper at a retreat for maritime stakeholders in Uyo on Monday, the Director, Naval Operations, Commodore Joseph Okojie, said the reduction in criminal activities in the country was possible because of the renewed commitment of the Nigerian Navy.
Okojie, who spoke on ‘Deterring Crude Oil Theft and Pipeline Vandalism in Nigeria: a Panacea for National Economic Prosperity’, noted that the war against illegal refiners of crude was enormous as even villagers see oil bunkering as their legitimate right.
He said, “In the last six months of 2012, the NN had destroyed over 7,378 illegal refineries and 908 deep canoes, commonly called Cotonou boats.
“Everybody in the village where these activities occur has a boat. They do not see anything wrong in what they are doing.
“As these refineries are destroyed and naval officers turn their backs, you will discover that thousands more of these illegal refineries resurface.”
He added that the total volume of oil stolen last year amounted to 9,831,520, saying the losses in the black waters were more than what the country was losing offshore.
Calling for cooperation among security agencies, he said, “For enforcement in which we handed over all those arrested to agencies such as NIMASA, EFCC and the Nigeria Police Force for prosecution, the snag here is the absence of a feedback mechanism with respect to prosecution.”
Okojie, however, identified inadequate platforms, ship support facilities, and inadequate funding as some of the factors militating against Navy’s operations.