The police in Lagos State have arrested three suspected pipeline vandals, including a 20-year-old lady, Motunrayo Lateef, who was accused of leading the vandals that operate on the Ilado and Takwa Bay islands of the state.
It was gathered that Lateef and the others – Anthony Adebanjo and Ola Omosowome – were arrested by the Inspector-General of Police’s Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism, while 118 jerrycans and two speedboats were recovered from them.
It was learnt that the operatives had raided the vandals’ hideout in Agbagbotu, Ilado, where Lateef was allegedly found siphoning fuel from a pipeline belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation into some jerrycans.
Anthony and Omosowome, on the other hand, were said to have been arrested by the police after they drove speedboats containing jerrycans to the scene.
Lateef, who said she was in the area, denied siphoning fuel from the vandalised pipelines.
She said, “I am not into pipeline vandalism. I was passing through the area around 12am when the police arrested me. I did not know vandals were in the area.
“I live in the Takwa Bay area and I was going to my house when the police arrested me.”
Anthony, from Igbokoda, Ondo State, said he was a driver for the vandals, adding that he was hired to transport the jerrycans to the location when the police arrested him.
He said, “I drive the speedboat. I don’t break pipelines. It is the vandals who usually contract me to transport petroleum products for them. I never knew it was stolen fuel. I was arrested on the Igbelejo Island while transporting some jerrycans.
“Omosowome and I were to take the jerrycans to the Agbabotu Island where they would be filled with fuel by vandals. I stay around the Apapa area. I told the police that I don’t have the names or contacts of the vandals I am working with.
“Their jerrycans were usually at the shore of Igbelejo Island, where we picked them up. We are not the vandals. Despite our explanations, the police would not let us go.”
The Commander of the task force, CSP Valentine Olumese, said the suspects were arrested by the police following a tip-off.
He added that the vandals damaged the NNPC pipelines at Agbagbotu, close to the Atlas Cove, and were siphoning fuel into several jerrycans when the operatives swooped on them.
He said, “When the vandals sighted policemen, they took to their heels. Some of them escaped in speedboats, while others fled into the bushes.
“However, we were able to arrest the three suspects. We also recovered two speedboats being used by the vandals, and 50-litre jerrycans. We have alerted the NNPC authorities to the damage, and we hope they will fix it on time.”
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