17 March 2014, Lagos – A suspect, Abbey Daniel, has told the police that he became a pipeline vandal because of the fuel scarcity which has been plaguing the nation for over a month.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Daniel was arrested by the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism, Lagos, in the Ikate, Akute area of Ojodu, Ogun State.
The special task force policemen, who stormed the area after they got a tip-off that vandals were operating, were said to have engaged them in a gun duel.
Daniel was arrested, while the others fled the scene and abandoned their equipment, including five speed boats containing about 4,000 empty jerrycans.
However, Daniel said his decision to vandalise oil pipeline was not for selfish gain, but to help Nigerians who queue for long hours every day.
He said, “I did it in an attempt to help Nigerians to get fuel which is not available. We got a tip-off from our informant that NNPC was pumping fuel through that line, so we got our equipment and went across the river.
“We thought that before the police would get across the river to where we were, we would have disappeared. There is high demand for fuel in Lagos and the buyers are paying good money, especially operators of fuel stations.”
Narrating how he was arrested, he said he hid in a nearby bush when the shooting between the members of his gang and the police became intense.
He said while his friends jumped into the river and swam away, he could not do so because he did not know how to swim.
“I was not armed and cannot swim, so I had to hide in the bush. I was on my way back home when the police traced me through my phone that was abandoned at the scene.”
Residents of Ikate told PUNCH Metro that they were woken up by the sound of gunshots.
They also lamented that the ongoing fuel scarcity had drawn pipeline vandals to the area, urging the government to provide security for the community.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Friday Ibadin, who is in charge of the task force, confirmed Daniel’s arrest. He said the team got a tip-off that vandals were at the Ikate Akute area of the NNPC right of way around 1am.
He said, “We got a tip-off that vandals had resumed their activities along Ikate Akute, Ojudu, Ogun State on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation pipeline.
“Policemen, led by the newly posted Lagos Sector Commander, DSP Samson Olawoyin, cordoned off the area and the vandals, who realised that the policemen were on their trail, opened fire.
“The vandals later fled. Their boat, which contained countless numbers of 50-litre kegs, have been destroyed while one of the suspects was arrested.
“There have been several attempts in recent times by vandals to operate, but our men who are always on ground have always stopped them. We are aware that these boys knew the desperation of Nigerians for fuel. We have to fortify the areas.”
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association, South-West Zone, Tayo Aboyeji, has said over 800 fuel tankers are currently stranded in Lagos due to unavailability of the product in Apapa depot.
He added that the influx of more fuel tankers had worsened the traffic situation in the Apapa area despite the presence of the special taskforce, including the men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority.
– The Punch