The Military on Monday arrested 10 suspects and intercepted 9 trucks (six of which were loaded with Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) while others were yet to be loaded) at the Forthright Estate Garden, in Arepo, Ogun State.
The Deputy Force Commander, Operation Awatse, Ma.j Gen. Godwin Umelo said that: “Arepo is well known for pipeline vandalism and we got information that the vandals would strike any moment from now so we intensified surveillance within the area to monitor them.
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“In the early hours of today (yesterday), we got information that vehicles were moving into the area and we directed our troops to move in which they did at about 5.30 am and met them loading their trucks with the fuel.
“Because it was still very early and dark, some of the vandals escaped into the forest as a result of poor visibility but we were lucky to have arrested 10 of them, all males.
“Six vehicles were arrested with already loaded products while three were yet to load.
“Behind the Forthright Garden Estate, we have the NNPC pipeline coming from Atlas Cove going into Moseimi where they pump and supply products.
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“It is obvious that this is an organised crime because it takes a lot of money to hire nine trucks as well as grade the roads and buy over 3km length of hose to pump the fuel products.
“The law will certainly take its course even though the army does not have precautionary powers, the Nigerian Security Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) that has the powers to prosecute those involved in pipeline vandals will handle the matter when we are done with the investigative process.
“In line with the directive and government policies when these products are evacuated these trucks will be destroyed immediately.”
Commenting, the Joint Force Commander, Operation Awatse, Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, said that: “This is a crime syndicate organized by rich and influential people considering the amount of money put in to carry out the operation considering the amount of money put into it including the grading of the road from Forthright Garden Estate to where they were siphoning the fuel is about 3km and the road was graded for this operation, even the grader is still here as part of the exhibits.
“It is a highly sophisticated syndicate to be able to higher nine trucks, a grader, and the procurement of a line of over three kilometers in length, fooling everybody.
“We were all patrolling along the pipeline but the main activity was taking place 3.2 kilometers away from the pipeline. It is the work of a highly determined criminal gang and syndicate who have spent a lot of money to ensure that they beat all security patrols to perpetrate this act of economic sabotage.
“Together with sister agencies, we are determined to get to the root of this syndicate and break their will from perpetrating these activities.”
He, however, appealed to Nigerians to continue to volunteer useful information to us through the Operational AWATSE helpline and the website.
“We promise to keep every information given to us confidential that would lead to the arrest of those that are bent on sabotaging our quest for energy security so that they can face the full wrath of the law,” he added.