The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Special Task Force on Pipeline Vandalism yesterday uncovered an illegal fuel depot in Lagos.
The find came barely 24 hours after a pipeline surveillance security firm discovered an illegal oil bunkering site at Robert Victor Village aka Idi Mango at Atlas Cove, Lagos.
Acting on a tip off, the task force headed by Valentine Olumese, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), stormed a building at Kml 1, LASU road, Isheri, Iyana-Odo Bus Stop around 2am, and discovered a fuel well.
Also found there were many 50-litre kegs loaded with petrol, which the suspected vandals were said to have abandoned while fleeing.
Sources claimed that the building, which is close to the pipeline, was constructed to aid petroleum products theft.
According to a source, the well was constructed with connecting underground pipes to the pipeline, a conduit for the suspected vandals whenever the valves were opened.
The source said the suspected vandals, who move out the filled tanks through the perimeter fence, also connected hosts to tankers which they load without obstruction.
He claimed that the vandals make between N9 million and N12 million per night, accusing residents of the neighbourhood of feigning ignorance of the illegal activity.
The property owner, Mrs Florence Olayinka Ayinde, who sells beverages in the shops outside the compound, said Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) officials usually came there to siphon fuel.
She was arrested with the Community Development Association (CDA) Chairman, Rotimi Olayisoye, who said he only gave her a lift because he was going her way.
According to the woman, who claimed she came after receiving a phone call that policemen were there, NNPC senior officials are involved in the business.
She said the vandals have been operating on her property for about three years, adding that she stopped sleeping there for fear of her life.
Mrs Ayinde said she complained to the NNPC depot, but nothing was done.
“NNPC is aware of what is happening here. I reported three years ago when I first noticed the activities of vandals in this premises. I told most of their bosses like Alhaji Abubakar, Jacob and my brother Oyinlola but they told me to leave it.
“I used to cook food here but because of the fuel, which affected my water, I stopped. When I told the NNPC people, they came to check it and they also said I should not do anything that will attract fire, they also told me that they will change the leaking pipe from the pipeline and dig another well for me but till date nothing was done.
“Instead, they (NNPC) usually come here to siphon fuel. At times they bring NNPC tankers and jerry cans.
Alhaji Abubakar and Jacob have been siphoning fuel here for three years now.
“The vandals also come to do the same thing. They usually come in the night. I do not stay here because I am afraid to die. I do not know anything about it. I am not a vandal. Let us get in touch with the NNPC, they will tell you that I have reported on several occasions.
“I do not have money but I will rather die than do illegal bunkering,” Mrs Ayinde said.