24 August 2015, Lagos – Active collaboration of security agents, influential Nigerians who act as godfathers and lack of state of the arts weapons to tackle pipeline vandals are the reasons why the illicit business continues to thrive in the country.
This was the findings of the researchers at the Criminology unit, Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan. They indicted men of the Police force, Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), among others in the ceaseless pipeline vandalism which had cost the country billions of naira in revenue generation and provision of security to tackle the menace.
According to the researchers: “Super-rich Nigerians are sponsoring oil pipeline vandalism at Arepo community, Ogun State.”
In a research report titled: “Social Organisation of Oil Pipeline Vandalism in Arepo Community, Ogun State” by Dr. Oludayo Tade and Ayodele Austin, the researchers called on the Inspector General of police (IG), Solomon Arase, to probe the complicity of his men posted to work at Arepo for allegedly working with money bags and corrupt staff of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) who aid pipeline vandalism.
The duo went further: “Pipeline vandalism in Arepo involves active collaboration of security agencies in general and in particular the police, senior staff at the NNPC (Mosimi), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), who have corruptly enriched themselves at the expense of the nation.
“All these actors provide the necessary information and deploy their network to aid the crime and even get the arrested vandals released from the hands of the law.”
While the NSCDC Act empowers it to protect government infrastructure such as pipelines, the criminologists found that reported romance between police and top NNPC personnel has impeded successful routing of vandals at the location compromising officers and staff in NNPC who provide vandals with information on when products are sent out across pipelines.
The researchers advocated the deployment of technological surveillance such as motion and flow detectors to check corrupt practices and vandalism as well as equipping security agencies with state-of-heart weapons, bullet proof, vehicles and gun boats which they currently lack.
“There is also politics in the anti-vandalism campaign. How do you expect security agents to face well equipped vandal when our security agents do not have bullet proof jackets, helmet, let alone vehicle and other incentives? Poorly equipped officers look the other way when confronted and become corrupted by the network of influential people.”
“We conclude that Arepo is a compromised environment and needs total liberation. People in the community who are not involved in vandalism live in fear and cannot talk because of fear for their lives. They do not trust security agencies because they alleged compromise. Our key informants told us that none of the vandals that had been arrested could afford the implements they used for vandalism.
“They even told us how some compromised NNPC staff have invited them for meetings to be put on their payroll on a monthly basis and allow vandals carry out their illegal oil scooping. For instance, they use drilling machine, carry sophisticated weapons like AK 47 which costs about N400, 000 per one, an average speed boat cost around N5million but the one mostly used in Arepo are locally constructed. They also use gun boat costing about N20 million each.
“We gathered that they use General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). All these point to the direction of sponsorship. The boys are given stipends. There is no doubt that the corrupt rich people are sabotaging the country and sponsoring pipeline vandalism.”
The researchers also challenged security agencies to reveal reports of their investigations on the vandals arrested and their sponsors, wondering why no sponsor has been prosecuted.
They lamented that just as it happens in drug trafficking, vandals benefit from the highly powerful network of their sponsors and the insiders they have among security agencies, NNPC, and DPR which make them operate successfully.
While calling on the new Group Managing Director of NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachiku and Inspector General of Police (IG) Solomon Arase, to probe the complicity of top officers of the corporation and police in the Arepo vandalism episodes.
– This Day