03 September 2013, Lagos – The Nigerian Navy has arrested five suspected pipeline vandals in Makoko area of Lagos State. But, the suspects claimed not being pipeline vandals, saying they ignorantly helped the vandals to convey the products.
PUNCH Metro learnt that naval operatives from NNS BEECROFT, arrested the suspects while they were transporting fuel allegedly siphoned from ruptured pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Naval authorities said 13,500 litres of petrol contained in 270 jerry cans and two canoes were recovered from the suspects who claimed that they were only helping a man to convey the items for a fee of N3,000 each.
Among the suspects were two nationals of Benin Republic, Juten Seiki and Joseph Logbo, and three others – Bababo Oritshebinomi, Segun Okimiji and Victor Sopha.
Parading the suspects, the Commanding Officer, NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Chris Ezekobe, stated that the suspects were arrested based on an intelligence report about their activities in the area.
He said, “Based on the information, a naval patrol vessel from Atlas Cove was deployed in the area and at the time of the arrest, about 270 fifty litres of plastic jerry-cans filled with PMS, and 40 empty ones were found in their possession.”
Ezekobe, who stated that the war against pipeline vandals was an ongoing one, vowed to bring all those arrested to book.
He said the suspects would soon be handed over to the security agency with the constitutional mandate to prosecute them.
The suspects however denied being pipeline vandals, saying they ignorantly helped the vandals to convey the products.
Logbo, who claimed to be a canoe operator, said, “I have been using the canoe to earn a living to take care of my wife and child.
“Like all paying passengers, one man approached me and asked for the use of my boat for an agreed fee. Since I did not know him well enough to give out my boat, I opted to convey them.
“That was what I was doing when the navy apprehended me and brought me here. I don’t know anything about the act. I didn’t know the products were stolen.”
Another suspect, Sopha, said he was paid N3,000 by the vandals, who are presently at large, to transport the products.
He said, “I really don’t have anything to say except that some people paid me to convey the kegs. I don’t even know them. I was paid N3,000.
“I met them in the middle of the lagoon. They said their boat was about to sink from the weight of the cargo and they needed help.”
Timothy, on his part, said this was his first time of attempting to help the vandals. He said, “I have a fishing boat which I rent for N5,000. I was fishing when I came upon them and they asked me to help them with the cargo.
“I told them I could not rent my boat out to strangers, so I joined them load the products in my boat. It was then we were arrested.”
– The Punch