The discoveries were made at Atani in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State by the navy and other security operatives in the state.
The state commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, Mr. Michael Ochogwu made the disclosure yesterday in Awka while addressing journalists.
Ochogwu said that the discovery was made by officers of the Nigerian Navy who later invited the NSCDC to inspect and evacuate the tanks and products found at the site.
“On April 11, Navy Captain in-charge of Naval Outpost, Onitsha, Mr. Abdullahi Ahmed sent a letter requesting the NSCDC to come for inspection and evacuation of illegally refined petroleum products found at a river side in Ogbaru.
“On April 16, a combined team of NSCDC, Nigeria Army and Nigerian Navy visited the area where 23 illegal refineries were discovered at 20 Nordica miles off Iyowa, Atani in Ogbaru.
“The areas where the illegal refineries were discovered span more than two kilometres. Fire wood used for refining, refined and un-refined products was also discovered.
“We had to travel for almost one and half hours before reaching the site of the refineries,” the commandant noted.
Ochogwu noted that none of the vandals operating the facilities were arrested “because they took to their heels on siting the army and naval officers who discovered their nefarious activities.”
“It is a surprise that for so long, some Nigerians could create illegal refineries along the river-bed to refine crude oil illegally transported from the sea,” he regretted.
While commending the efforts of the Naval and Army officers, Ochogwu stressed the need for adequate training and provision of speed boats for the NSCDC command to help tackle vandalism along the water ways.
He expressed concern at the increasing rate of vandalism in the state and called on traditional rulers and members of the public to provide useful information that could lead to the arrest of suspects.
The NSCDC commandant also appealed to the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to come and evacuate the seized 453 drums of illegally refined diesel at its headquarters in Awka.
“To my dismay, the drums and products arrested by officers of the Nigerian Army and handed over to NSCDC have not been evacuated by NNPC in spite of series of letter written to them.
“The drums are causing nuisance to the headquarters and we don’t even have space for other vandalised products.
“They are the rightful owners of the items and products and should therefore come and evacuate them for refining so that the products can be useful and sold to the public,” he said.
He noted that investigation was still on going on the matter, adding that no arrest had been made.