The Police High Command, on Monday, paraded eight suspects and 18 tanker trailer trucks loaded with illegally refined diesel through illegal bunkering and vandalisation of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) products.
Force spokesman, DCP Don Awunah, while parading the eight illegal bunkerers in Abuja, said another 10 suspects were in police custody in Lagos State with two vessels, Ellen and MB Opuda Vessel, with 18 trucks all loaded with diesel.
According to him, the massive destruction of government investment in the petroleum industry and loss of lives through the criminal activities of some undesirable elements had continued unabated.
This situation, which has assumed worrisome dimension and poses negative effects on the economy, made the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to reorganise and empower the anti-pipeline vadalisation unit of the force to decisively tackle these criminals and their collaborators.
DCP Awunah disclosed that in a coordinated operation, based on credible intelligence and assistance from the key players in the petroleum sector, the anti-pipeline vandalisation of the police arrested 20 suspects, impounded two vessels and 18 trucks loaded with stolen petroleum products.
The names of the 10 suspects in police custody in Lagos were Tumbiri (captain), Thomas (Company’s Representative), Godwil (Chief mate), Alfred (Engineer) and Emmanuel (Deckhand).
Others were Godwin (Electrician), Omokete (Engineer Cadet), Victor (Seaman), Suleiman and William (surnames withheld).
He said on November 1, at about 0220 hours, a sustained surveillance and monitoring of Ellen vessel and crew members sailing from Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states waterways to Lagos State with illegally refined AGO (diesel) on board was embarked upon by the IGP’s task force on illegal petroleum bunkering.
“Consequently, on November 3, at about 0830 hours, the task force trailed and intercepted Ellen vessel at Satomen’s Jetty located at Amuwo Odofin in mile 2 area of Lagos State, where it had discharged the illegal refined AGO (diesel) into 18 trucks, 33,000 litres each. The vessel, crew members, the 18 trucks and other suspects were promptly arrested and taken into custody by the IGP’s task force on petroleum and illegal bunkering,” he disclosed.
Also, in a similar development, another vessel branded MB OPUDA SHIP was also intercepted and arrested at the same Satomen’s Jetty located at Amuwo Odofin in mile 2 area of Lagos State after discharging suspected illegally refined AGO (diesel).
Awunah added that on October 28, at about 1600 hours, operatives of the IGP’s task force on petroleum and illegal bunkering, on a tip-off, stormed an illegal local refinery located at Adogu village, in Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi State, where two trucks loaded with illegal AGO products, 20,000 litres each were intercepted.
The five suspects arrested were Harison, Mohammed, Idris, Emmanuel and Suleman (surnames withheld), during interrogation volunteered confessional statements and admitted to the various criminal roles they played in the commission of the crime.
The force spokesman disclosed that investigation into the case was being intensified to arrest other members of the group at large, ading that suspects would be promptly arraigned on completion of thorough investigation.
“Exhibits recovered from the suspects were one White Scania Lorry with Registration No. RBC 552 ZS (covered body), one Toyota Previa bus with Registration No. EKY 659 BJ, four pumping machines, one big blue motor jack, two motor batteries, four shovels, one filling machine (yellow colour) and two tarpaulins,” he disclosed.
He further said that on October 13, at about 1200 hours, intelligence gathered by the IGP’s special task force on petroleum and illegal bunkering revealed that vandalisation of NNPC pipeline was ongoing at Monkey’s village Okpella area of Edo State and the task force swiftly moved in; on sighting the police team, the vandals took to their heels and abandoned a lorry and some tools used for vandalisation.
“The suspects were Amechi (owner of the illegally refined product), Ezechi and Mamud (surnames withheld). Exhibits also recovered were one truck XB 169 GWB with 33,000 litres of diesel and one truck loaded with diesel.
“The three suspects mentioned above were arrested by the IGP’s task force on petroleum and illegal bunkering in Abia and Kaduna states. The first and second suspects were arrested in Abia State after vandalising NNPC pipeline at a point in Owaza area of Abia State and siphoned 33,000 litres of cooked diesel, while the last suspect was arrested in Kaduna Sytate for being in possession of a truck loaded with 25,000 litres of cooked diesel suspected to have been vandalised.
“They will be arraigned on completion of investigation,” the force spokesman said.