The Rivers State Police Command said a taskforce has been set up to comb houses for stored fuel after the jetty fire recorded on Monday.
It promised to deal decisively with any of its men found involved in illicit oil business or aiding miscreants engaging in the act.
The command’s spokesman, Nnamdi Omoni, disclosed these to our correspondent on Tuesday a day after the state governor, Nyesom Wike, accused top ranking military and police officials of alleged involvement in oil theft.
The governor had said the involvement of the security officials which had made it difficult for them to checkmate the crime.
But Omoni said the command’s taskforce would monitor illegal oil refining business in the state and any police officer found culpable would be punished accordingly.
He said, “If our men are involved, let us know and we will deal with them accordingly. We have been dealing with them and we cannot stop, except the matter was not reported to us.
“If you see any police officer getting involved in this act of criminality, please do let us know. This is even worse than stealing. It is economic sabotage and can lead to death.”
On the fire which claimed four lives and burnt seven boats at the Bonny/Nembe/Bille Jetty in Port Harcourt on Monday, the police spokesman said a taskforce has been inaugurated to begin house-to-house search for storage of illegally refined petroleum products.
He said the taskforce and other tactical units assigned the responsibility would commence work immediately.
Omoni also disclosed that the command retrieved the remains of four persons, including children, who were burnt beyond recognition in the inferno.
He added that the state Commissioner of Police has ordered a comprehensive probe of the jetty fire and three other similar incidents that occurred in Port Harcourt and its environs recently with a view to unravelling the causes and identifying the perpetrators for appropriate action.
Meanwhile, the Federal Fire Service in the state said it intervened in putting out fire in more than 40 incidents in the state in the last three months.
The state commander of the service, Abdullahi Alfa, who disclosed this in Port Harcourt, disclosed that faulty electrical appliances were the major causes of fire outbreaks during the period.
“In September, we recorded about 19 cases of fire. In October, we handled almost 12 to 13 cases. We are still in November; we have handled more than seven cases now.
“We had more electrical fire cases in September. Those cases were in the educational establishments. Then we had some lockup shops which were also electrical and illegal storage of petroleum products. The major one for now is electrical, followed by illegal storage of fuel,” he stated.
Alfa also decried situations where firefighters are attacked by mob while responding to distress calls.
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