Operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Command, have tracked down three suspected vandals allegedly tampering with the pipelines of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Ilashe community, Amuwo-Odofin and Abule Odo, Baruwa, in the Alimosho area of the state.
While Yusuf Olojede and Wasiu Abayomi were arrested in Ilashe, one Segun Adigun was apprehended in Abule Odo.
City Round learnt that 23-year-old Olojede was arrested on December 4, 2018 by the anti-vandal operatives of the corps who stormed the community following a tip-off.
About 500 litres of product suspected to be premium motor spirit (popularly known as petrol) stored in jerrycans were reportedly recovered from him.
It was gathered that Olojede mentioned Abayomi as one of his accomplices and gave the operatives information which led to his arrest on December 25.
In an interview with our correspondent on Thursday, Abayomi, a tiler, owned up to scooping fuel from the pipeline.
The 22-year-old man explained that he and Olojede were going to a football pitch in the neighbourhood on a Sunday when they stumbled on fuel leaking from the pipeline.
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He said, “I am a tiler. I live on Snake Island, Ilashe. Yusuf (Olojede) and I were going to the field around 7am that Sunday to play football when we saw fuel leaking from the pipeline. We went back home and brought jerrycans to scoop the fuel. We scooped 14 jerrycans of 30 litres each.
“Yusuf was arrested a few days after. He was the one who gave the officers information about me. I was arrested on Christmas Day.
“We did not plan to steal the fuel when we left home for the football pitch that day. We stumbled on the leaking pipeline and felt it was an opportunity for us to scoop some fuel. I regret my action and want the government to forgive me. My parents are dead.”
Olojede was said to have been granted administrative bail on health grounds.
But the third suspect, Segun Adigun, 29, who was arrested on Tuesday, denied being a vandal.
The expectant father stated that he was a driver and was driving two traders to Igando to convey some goods when the vehicle had a flat tyre.
He said, “I have been in Lagos for seven years. I am a commercial driver, but in the last seven months, I have been jobless. On Tuesday morning, a friend asked me to come to Alaba. He said somebody needed a driver to convey some foodstuffs to Seme.
“I took the goods to Seme and came back around 6pm that day. I quickly went back home to check on my wife because she was pregnant. I had not even collected the money for the service.
“I was at home when my friend called me and said some people wanted to convey goods at Igando. I went back to Alaba and together with the two traders, we left for Igando. They did not tell me what the goods were. I was almost there when I heard a flat tyre. Unfortunately, there was no jack in the vehicle.
“While the traders went to look for a jack, some NSCDC men in a patrol van arrived at the spot. One of them asked me what was in the vehicle and I told him we were there to carry some goods. He checked the boot and went back to the van.”
Adigun said one of the traders later returned with a jack and left the spot immediately. He told our correspondent that he discovered that the jack was bad and decided to wait for the traders.
“While I was waiting, the officer asked me whether I came to carry fuel with the vehicle and I said no. I was with them when their colleagues arrived. They arrested me and took me to where they recovered jerrycans,” he added.
Earlier, while parading the suspects, the NSCDC commandant in the state, Tajudeen Balogun, said they were members of syndicates tampering with pipelines in the areas.
He said the arrest was made possible by intelligence report gathered from members of the public, adding that the suspects would be charged to court soon.
“We got information that some vandals were operating at Abule Odo, Baruwa, in the Alimosho area and our men in anti-vandal unit swung into action. They arrested one of the suspects and recovered two vehicles as well as a long hose they used in siphoning fuel.
“Eighty-one jerrycans of 30 litres each, filled with a product suspected to be PMS, were recovered. About 350 jerrycans of fuel and two vehicles recovered at Ilashe, along the Atlas Cove, were recovered and handed over to Pipeline and Products Marketing Company team in the area. Efforts are ongoing to apprehend other members of the two syndicates.”
Speaking on the recent pipeline explosion in Abule Egba, Tajudeen said investigation into the incident revealed that the act was perpetrated by some people who worked in the community.
He said security agencies were working with the Lagos State Government to restore sanity to the pipeline routes.
He said, “From intelligence report, some of the suspects involved are not residing in that area. They are people who work in the community in the daytime. All the suspects will be arrested very soon. We have also realised that there was encroachment on the pipelines’ right of way. Mechanic workshops, a truck park, among others were located close to the pipeline. There should be a clear distance away from where the pipeline passes through.”