The Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Lagos, has arrested three Beninese, Sosu Elijah, Whesu Julien and Agosu Ogungbe, for allegedly vandalising and stealing fuel from pipelines of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The Beninese were apprehended with four others – Omosebi Olorunwa, Daniel Akinwunmi, Rafiu Balogun and Samson Adams – on Wednesday at Owode-Apapa, in the Badagry area of the state while they were smuggling the stolen fuel from the country.
PUNCH Metro learnt that motorcycles and 10 vehicles, including a Volkswagen car marked, XV859KRD, and 113 jerrycans of petrol were recovered from the suspects.
One of the suspects, 18-year-old Adams, who said he was an admission-seeker, told our correspondents that his role was to assist the gang to fill the jerrycans with fuel, adding that he did not know that it was an offence.
He said, “I want to go to school. My father is late and my mother does not have money. I decided to work so that I can raise some money. What I usually do is to fill the jerrycans with petrol at a filling station.
“Some people buy the fuel and smuggle it from Nigeria into neighbouring countries. I collect N1,000 every day. I have so far saved N10,000.”
The Beninese, Elijah, said, “I was taken to the scene by my boss. He said he had a job for me, but he abandoned me immediately he saw the police.”
However, Olorunwa denied being a member of the syndicate, saying he was apprehended while returning from a hospital, where he had taken her ailing father.
Another suspect, Akinwunmi, said he was going for a vigil when policemen arrested him.
But the zonal spokesperson, SP Muyiwa Adejobi, said the suspects had made confessional statements to the police, adding that the command would not rest on its oars in ridding the zone of vandals.
He said, “There were over 50 vandals in the place, which is located far from the major road. When the command got a tip-off on vandals’ activities, Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Abdulmajid Ali, deployed a team in the area around 12.30am and the suspects were arrested while others fled.
“The command got a hint of the activities of the hoodlums, who are mostly from the Benin Republic.
“We learnt that some pipelines had been vandalised and turned into a petrol depot where vandals siphoned and ferried a large quantity of petroleum products out of the country.
“The AIG had directed that other fleeing members of the syndicate be arrested and charged to court without delay.”