Operatives of the Lagos State Task Force at the weekend nabbed 43 alleged oil thieves and sealed off a property with 2.5 million litres of adulterated diesel at Alausa, Ikeja.
Chairman of the task force, Olayinka Egbeyemi, a Superintendent of Police (SP), disclosed that the agency acted on a ‘Save our Soul (SOS) petition submitted to its office on illegal activities of oil thieves at Plot 8, Elephant Cement Way, Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja.
Egbeyemi disclosed further that the arrested 43 suspects were caught while mixing original diesel with kerosene and selling at a reduced price to members of the public.
The Guardian gathered that the adulterated diesel was responsible for series of engine issues experienced by private and commercial vehicles owners in the country.
According to Egbeyemi, investigation with available documents (reciepts) revealed that this illegal business has been going on for over seven years.
“These people have been selling adulterated diesel to members of the public, particularly big companies across the state and this has been responsible for engine breakdown often experienced by these companies. Adulterated diesels worth 2.5 million litres were fully loaded inside gallons and six different trucks with registration numbers FST 615 XR, EPE 672 XC, DKW 05 XA, KTU 750 XN, BDG 717 XA, FKJ 327 XH and XR 95 LSD”.
The task force boss enjoined members of the public to report to appropriate government authority any illegal activities around them through the Lagos Emergency Toll-free lines ‘112’ or ‘767’.
According to him, technicians around the area complained that activities of the illegal oil bunkerers were responsible for a fire outbreak that destroyed properties, including 18 vehicles around the area recently.
Mr. Anjorin Babalola, a mechanic, disclosed that they were afraid to make a report to government because the notorious oil thieves were threatening them.
However, in a swift reaction, diesel dealers in Alausa have accused the task force of lying to the public that they engage in adulterated diesel businesses, saying they are not bunkerers, but citizens engaged in legal business.
One of the diesel dealers, who spoke on behalf of other partners, Kehinde Alabi, said the task force invaded the storage facility illegally on Saturday and arrested 43 of their boys and later released 26 of them.
He said the taskforce earlier sealed up the yard and re-opened it on Saturday as the property belonged to former Military Governor of Lagos, Raji Rasaki, who happened to own an office in the premises.
According to him, one of the storage facilities being used was owned by Rasaki’s son, saying that “how could we engage in illegal business when the place is owned by Raji Rasaki?”
He added that they could not have been involved in such illicit act selling adulterated diesel considering the location of the business.
He debunked the allegations by the task force, noting that their activities at the location were certified by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).