The army said the bunkering site is about one kilometre from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in the state capital.
Brigadier Steven Olabanji, Commander of 2 Brigade of Nigerian Army said that security operatives stormed the site after being tipped off by well-meaning Nigerians.
Olabanji, who explained that the level of oil theft within the site was massive, said that thousands of litres of illegally refined diesel were discovered at the Makoba Beach site.
He said that Army personnel, who stormed the area on Monday, noticed the lifting of illegally refined petroleum products in large quantities into local boats.
According to Olabanji, over 5,000 drums of illegally refined fuel and a barge containing 165,000 litres of diesel were found at the site.
“At about 16:40 hours on Monday, we got information that some illegal bunkering activities were going on along Makoba Beach. On arrival, our personnel discovered illegal activities, which involved bunkering of illegally refined petroleum products and lifting of diesel to local boats.
“At the site, we found over 5,000 drums loaded with illegally refined diesel, four tanker trucks containing 132,000 litres of diesel combined and a barge with 165,000 litres of stolen diesel.
“This discovery is unprecedented because since we started our operations 10 days ago, this is about the biggest that we have uncovered,” he said.
Olabanji disclosed that additional 150 drums containing 3,150 litres of diesel were discovered in 21 Cotonou boats, adding that 13 suspects were apprehended at the site.
He also said that the site was not immediately set ablaze as a result if its proximity to the NPA and some buildings within the area.
“Our mandate requires us to destroy the site, but we cannot do this because it will degrade the environment and affect residents as it is situated in the heart of Port Harcourt. Our plan is to move them to a safe location for destruction,” Olabanji said.
He said that preliminary investigation had started with a view to unravelling sponsors of the facility.
Olabanji also noted that those arrested would be handed over to the relevant authorities for further investigation and prosecution.
He assured that the Joint Military Task Force would not relent in its determination to rid the state of illegal bunkering activities.
Olabanji also stressed the need for members of the public to give the JTF information that could lead to the arrest of oil thieves
By Patrick Aigbokhan