One Iyiola Adeyinka, who was arrested along with 42 others for allegedly engaging in illegal oil bunkering in Ikeja, Lagos State, says they realise about N20m on a daily basis from the sale of adulterated diesel.
The 40-year-old man explained that he and his gang members supplied the product, which was reportedly mixed with kerosene, to banks and companies in the state at reduced prices to ensure high patronage.
The suspects worked with a company, Globjin Petroleum Limited, on Plot 8, Elephant Cement Way, Alausa, Ikeja, owned by one Alhaji Lukumon Ojena.
It was gathered that operatives of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement Unit) raided the firm’s premises on Friday after receiving a tip-off.
The suspects were said to have been caught in the act with 2.5 million litres of the adulterated product loaded in jerrycans and six 33,000-litre tankers.
Ojena and other workers were said to be at large.
Adeyinka, who hails from Ilero, Oyo State, told operatives that about N20m diesel was sold daily from the five pumps in the firm.
He said, “We buy diesel and mix it with kerosene. We sell to people, banks and telecommunications companies. I sell up to N4m diesel per day.
“Some major oil firms supply us diesel and kerosene. The owner of the business, Alhaji Lukumon Ojena, pay us N4,000 per day and we work at night.”
Another arrested worker, Nonso Mordi, 25, from Delta State said the “business” was lucrative, adding that each worker was paid between N3,000 to N4,000 per day.
“We have very good contacts with major oil marketers who supply us diesel and kerosene everyday for mixing and onward sales,” he added.
The Head, Public Affairs Unit of the task force, Adebayo Taofiq, who said the firm had been sealed off, added that a preliminary investigation revealed that it had been operating in the area for seven years,
He said, “Forty-three suspects were nabbed and, with 2.5 million litres of adulterated diesel. The premises was sealed off. The Chairman of the Lagos State Task Force, SP Olayinka Egbeyemi, said his men acted on save-our-soul petitions submitted to his office.
“The suspects were caught while mixing diesel with kerosene. Preliminary investigations with available documents revealed that the illegal business has been on for over seven years.
“Adulterated diesel was loaded inside gallons and six different trucks with number plates, FST 615 XR, EPE 672 XC, DKW 05 XA, KTU 750 XN, BDG 717 XA, FKJ 327 XH and XR 95 LSD.”
Egbeyemi urged members of the public to report any illegal activity around them to appropriate government authorities through the Lagos Emergency Toll-free lines 112 and 767.
The chairman said, “The Lagos State Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni, has directed that those arrested in connection with the adulterated diesel be immediately charged to court.”
One of the owners of the firm, who spoke on behalf of other partners, Kehinde Alabi, debunked the claim that the diesel was adulterated.
He said, “The task force invaded the storage facility illegally and arrested 43 of our workers and later released 26 of them. It earlier sealed off the premises and reopened it on Saturday as the property belonged to a former Military Governor of Lagos, Raji Rasaki, who also owns an office on the premises.
“Our activities are certified by the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. Rather than the task force demanding documents that certified our activities at the site on their arrival on the premises, they impounded our products.”
“The products at the depot were bought from NNPC and Oando for sale to companies that could not afford to buy them in large quantity.”