03 April 2013, Lagos – A suspected leader of a pipeline vandal syndicate arrested in Lagos made a startling revelation at the weekend, alleging that they sell stolen petroleum products to fuel station owners.
The suspect who was arrested by the officers of the Inspector-General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism, said: “Let me tell you all the truth and nothing but the truth. Several persons, including owners of petrol stations patronise us. Most of these buyers wait for us at Apapa. Each sack contains 125 litres and we sell one for N6000″.
The 52-year-old suspect, by name Kokumo Ayekede, was arrested with four others at 7th Avenue, Festac Town, with 270 bags of petroleum products worth over N2 million.
Mr Friday Ibadin, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, said the suspects broke a pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in Oke Agemo,
Ijedodo,under Iba Local Council Development Area of Lagos State and were transporting the stolen product in their canoes when they were accosted around Festac creeks by the task force team led by the Lagos State Sector Commander, DSP Onaghise Osayande.
Kokumo claimed he was a palm wine tapper but one of his colleagues identified him as their boss. Also, he claimed to be a dredger who was paid to dredge holes for some vandals at the end of which he was paid N6,000 for the service. Having said this, another of his colleagues said he was lying.
He later accepted being a vandal, saying: “In fact, let me tell you all the truth and nothing but the truth. Several persons, including owners of petrol stations patronise us. Most of these buyers wait for us at Apapa. Each sack contains 125 litres and we sell one for N6000.
“We decided to use sacks because they are easier to transport and allows for more contents than Jerry cans. Jerry cans are very difficult because of the level of water. As soon as we arrived pipeline location, with the aid of a dredger, we would open the pipe and use our valve to block it immediately. We would then run it through the hose to the water where the bags and my boys are waiting. We would then tie the bags together. For each trip, we can move at least 270 bags.
“I work for Ebi. In fact, I was forced to join after my business started experiencing shake-up. I am paid N60,000 after each trip.
“We usually don’t have problem of selling the product because buyers are always waiting for us at Apapa. Our main job is to transport the product through the river and this we do at midnight. We usually use Festac canal because it is closer. If we scale through the route, then it will be a smooth sail to Apapa.
“Most times, buyers come with their tankers and I prefer working with women because security operatives hardly catch with them.
“But business had been bad since last June because of the arrests by security operatives. And because of this, we usually carry out our operation with fear and that has been the cause of major fire outbreak in some pipelines.
He continued: “Last Christmas fire at Ijedodo was caused by fear. It was God that saved me. While we were leaving the site, one of the boys, Gbenga, used his lighter to cut the ropes they used to tie the sacs in the water and before we knew it, there was a blast and the rest is history.”
He later pleaded he be released in the spirit of Easter as he further alleged that his group selected Easter Sunday for their operation, believing that security operatives would be away from their duty posts celebrating with their families.
“We were surprised when we saw them. But all I am begging is for them to release me for the sake of the Easter, a day we are celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ who came to die for my sins and yours,” he said.