The Niger-Delta Safe Environment Group (NSEG) has lauded the Nigerian military on its increased operations aimed at curbing oil theft in the region.
This is contained in a statement on Monday by Mr Ombo Princewill and Felicia Akpabio, President and Secretary of the group, respectively, in Abuja.
The duo said that long years of illegal oil bunkering had caused severe damage to environment and health of people in the region.
They lamented that several residents were afflicted with illnesses as a result of massive environmental degradation caused by the activities of oil thieves.
The officials, however, said that military onslaught by troops of Operation Delta Safe had weakened the activities of the criminals.
According to them, the activities of the Armed Forces, under the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, have helped to protect the environment and save huge resources for the country.
“Just last week, the Defence Headquarters announced that it discovered and destroyed 74 illegal refineries and arrested a total of 71 criminals terrorising the zone.
“In addition, the troops have also recovered 209,000 litres of crude oil, 145,000 litres of Automotive Gas Oil, 4,500 litres of Premium Motor Spirit, 27 variety of weapons, 468 assorted ammunition, 2 speed boats, 2 outboard engines, 8 vehicles and 4 motorcycles.
“We commend the AFN for operations conducted at the creeks, waterways, high sea, towns and cities of Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states, which yielded appreciable results.
“For long, misguided elements in our region have put our health at risk in their quest for illegal wealth. Women with pregnancy are affected, there are incidences of lung cancer.
“Not to be mentioned is the manner our sources of livelihood, fishing and farming, have been greatly affected,” the officials added.
They urged people of the region to cooperate with the military in tackling those degrading the environment, causing health hazards and bleeding the country’s economy. (NAN)