Brig.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, Commander, Guards Brigade, said at a news conference in Abuja that the tankers were arrested on March 10 by the army troops at Toto checkpoint in Toto Local Government Area of Nassarawa State.
He said that the troops from 177 Guards Battalion, stationed at Toto checkpoint, intercepted the tanks on their way to Kano by 4 p.m.
“However, the owner of the tankers attempted to bribe our troops which was out rightly rejected and the incidence promptly reported to the appropriate superior authority.
“And the tankers subsequently impounded and moved to 177 guards battalion in Keffi. The owner and 15 other suspects were arrested in the process, ‘’ he said.
Atewe said the principal suspect admitted that he and other members of his syndicate syphoned the crude oil from the broken NNPC pipeline along Abaji in the FCT.
He said one AK 47 rifle and a magazine were also recovered from one of the suspects.
He said that the suspects had been handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.
Receiving the suspects, Mr. Baba Azare, the Head of the Counter-Terrorism and General Investigation of the EFCC, assured the public of prompt investigation into the matter, with a view to prosecuting them.
Azare said EFCC would need to examine the contents of the tankers to confirm what they were carrying.
The principal suspect said each of the tankers cost as much as N400,000 to hire while the product cost him N800,000.
He said each of the tankers would have fetched him N1.8m.
The suspect said out of the 14 tankers, 11 carried crude oil, one kerosene while two carried diesel.
Five of the suspects pleaded not guilty, arguing that they were workers of a private company whose responsibilities included watching over the NNPC pipelines.
The drivers also claimed they were doing their jobs.