Gboyega Akinsanmi and Chiemelie Ezeobi
About 60 suspected pipeline vandals have been arrested by operatives of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Ikorodu area of Lagos State, while tampering with fuel pipelines that ran through Majidun.
The suspects were arrested few weeks after operatives of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit raided Ikorodu suburbs in a manhunt for pipeline vandals.
NSCDC spokesman, Mr. Shem Obafaiye, told journalists after the arrest that NSCDC officers had stormed the area on December 6 and discovered several kegs of fuel, which the suspects were using to store fuel.
Obafaiye said fully armed operatives of the NSCDC carried out the raid, where they were able to arrest 60 suspected pipeline vandals, despite the fact that the villagers attacked them with cutlasses, guns and bottles among others.
According to him, operatives of the corps had first stormed the area on Sunday to arrest the suspects but were not successful, prompting them to reinforce Monday.
The spokesman explained that at least, seven of security operatives attached to NSCDC “are seriously injured by the villagers. They attacked our men with guns, cutlasses, broken bottles and other dangerous weapons.”
“Sunday night, we got security tip that vandals were operating at Majidun area of Ikorodu, our men went there and saw several kegs of PMS and came with several of them. This morning, we got wind of vandals in the area again.
“We have to go back and the villagers came out to attack my men, but we succeeded in arresting 60 of them. We have received report that a traditional ruler in the area is behind the operation. My boys were attacked and wounded,” added Shem, who is the Commandant, Lagos NSCDC,” Obafaiye said.
He warned that it was not going to be business as usual as the command had vowed to eradicate vandalism from Lagos, saying the arrested suspects would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
But one of the suspects denied being a bunkerer, adding that he “is a mechanic. I did not attack any civil defence official. My arrest was unjust and illegal because I am not into pipeline vandalism.”
While Mr. Kamorudeen Raji, a suspect claimed he was into sand business and not a pipeline vandal, Mr. Shina John, claimed he was just arrested for no just cause.