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The Federal Government says it is determined to stop the economic devastation caused by oil thieves, illegal refiners, and pipeline vandals.

“We are here to reclaim this industry for the country because the country has lost so much from the activities of these criminals, and government can no longer afford these activities,” said minister of state of petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva, on Wednesday at Bonny Island, Rivers, while addressing officers of the 146 Battalion and other security agencies represented in the fight against oil theft.

Mr Sylva was on an assessment tour on illegal mining sites at the Niger Delta region creek.

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He stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that the illegal activities must stop and had called for an assessment of the devastation occasioned by the activities of the criminals.

Addressing officers of the 146 Battalion, Mr Sylva said, “You are here on a mission. I commend you for all the good work you have done. Our nation depends on this asset to survive. Oil and gas are one of the major sustaining assets of the country.”

He added, “Unfortunately, we have had a lot of insecurity around oil facilities and pipelines. This can no longer be condoned. Mr President has directed that this must stop. You are here as gallant officers to protect these facilities. Henceforth we will be working closely with you to ensure that there is zero loss to our production.”

Mr Sylva commended the chief of defence staff but pointed out that “there is still ground to cover.”

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The minister further explained that the final solution to the problem required the collaboration of the community, the government security and the operating companies.

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