By ELIAS DOLAPO
THE operatives of Inspector General of Police Task Force on Pipeline Vandalism have arrested three suspected vandals, recovered 118 jerry-cans and two speed boats at Ilado and Takwa Bay area of Lagos.
It was gathered that the 20-year-old female identified as Motunrayo Lateef was the leader of the vandals who siphoned Prime Motor Spirit (PMS) from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) along with accomplices namely; Adebanjo Anthony and Omosowome.
The suspects were arrested at different locations when the operatives swooped on them at Agbagbotu area in Ilado. However, a source revealed that Motunrayo was arrested while siphoning fuel belonging to NNPC into some jerry-cans. Another gang members, Anthony, was apprehended on water in a speedboat while heading to the place where products are stolen.
However, the suspects denied all the allegations levied against them, saying they knew nothing about the illegal activities. Omosowome and Anthony said that they were hired by a man who never disclosed his name to transport the jerry-cans to a spot where the pipeline was broken while they were intercepted by the police.
“I am a boat boy and I don’t break pipelines. I work for whoever contracts me to work for him. Though people usually contract me to transport petroleum products for them, but I do not think it is illegal.”
According to him, he Omosowome were contracted to transport transport some jerry cans to Agbagbotu Island, which is very close to Atlas Cove.
“On our way, we were intercepted by the police and they arrested us. I told them that I was only contracted to transport the jerry cans and not involved in pipeline vandalism but they are not buying my story,” Anthony stated. On interrogation, Motunrayo said that she was truly in the area, but denied siphoning fuel from the vandalised pipelines.
“I am not into pipeline vandalism. I was passing through the area around 12am when the police arrested me. I did not know vandals were in the area. I live in Takwa Bay area and I was going to my house when the police arrested me,” she said.
However, the Commander of the task force, CSP Valentine Olumese, while confirming the report, stated that the suspects were arrested, following a tip-off on their activities. He explained that he received an intelligence report that vandals had damaged a pipeline at Agbagbotu which is very close to Atlas Cove Jetty.
“When the vandals sighted policemen, they took to their heels. Some of them escaped in speedboats, while others fled into the bushes. However, we were able to arrest the three suspects. We also recovered two speedboats used by the vandals, and 50-litre jerry-cans. We have alerted the NNPC authorities to the damage pipeline and we hope they will fix it in time,” the Commander noted.