By Philip Nwosu
Nigerian Army has impounded four trucks and vans laden with automotive gas oil, (AGO), used by suspected vandals to siphon oil in the Oregun area of Lagos.
The military said the men were rounded up after an eight -hour operation, warning persons engaged in vandalising petroleum pipelines and stealing products within the Lagos-Ogun axis to desist forthwith, as it would not hesitate to deal ruthlessly with persons caught in illegal bunkering.
The Army, while parading the five suspects caught by operatives of Operation Awatse in Lagos, said they were busted after the operation, which commenced from 6pm on January 11, 2022, and ended by 1am.
According the operation officer, 9 Brigade, Major Tarilla Emuren, four tankers fully loaded with petroleum products and five vans with tanks inside them were also impounded after the raid, while five persons were arrested in connection with the crime.
He said: “It will interest you to know that the Ford vans have been specially modified without due recourse to safety to accommodate locally fabricated tanks for storage of stolen petroleum products.
“Additionally, four tankers were also recovered at the illegal depot laden with suspected stolen products as well as several drums, hoses and other equipment used by these economic saboteurs.”
“Beside the economic loss occasioned by the activities of these criminals, the safety concern is also worrisome. The location constitutes serious dangers to other laws abiding residents within the community while their activities result in the environment degradation pollution and heightened the risk of fire outbreak.
“Also the crude modification of vehicles used in conveying these highly inflammable products constitutes even greater danger to other unsuspecting road users in Lagos and other places the products may be transported to.”
He said that the scale of economic sabotage orchestrated by the suspected vandals is estimated to worth about 300 million naira, adding that the scooping of this oil had been going on without the knowledge of relevant government agencies.
Major Emuren reiterated the commitment of OP AWATSE towards curbing all oil related criminal activities within the south west geo political zone, noting that law abiding citizens must join hands with the military to fight against oil thieves by providing credible intelligence.
He said: “By this token, appropriate security agencies will be able to take action t check some of these illegalities thus ensuring that the environment remain conducive to genuine business with compliance to relevant safety procedures.”
While handling over the suspects and the seized trucks and vans to officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigerian Army said “We will not rest on our oars till all perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to book.”