Navy Uncovers Illegal Diesel Depot Worth N500m in Lagos

Sunday Ehigiator

In furtherance of its commitment to curb the activities of illegal oil-bunkers in the country, the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft Apapa, yesterday, arrested no fewer than three suspects operating an illegal Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) also known as Diesel, worth over N500 million, at Ariyo Street, Jakande, off Lekki area of Lagos State.

However, the Navy has since handed over the investigation, alongside suspects, and recovered product to the Lagos State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC)

According to THISDAY findings, the suspects who operate under an unregistered company called, ‘Ahmed Ariyo and Sons Nigeria Limited’, have been running the illegal AGO depot as a family business, for approximately five years, with Mr Ahmed Ariyo as the prime suspect, alongside his two sisters (name undisclosed) and other suspects still at large.

Preliminary investigation by the Commander, NNS Beecroft, Commodore Rafiu Oladejo, further disclosed that the illegal deport if filled could house products worth over N500 million

According to him, “ It is worrisome that an apartment of this nature is serving as an illegal fuel depot undermining the economic and security implications on lives and properties for the general area should there be a case of fire disaster.

“In this facility, we have eight 50,000-capacity tanks, but they are not all filled.  Cumulatively, in the eight tanks, we have about 57,000 litres of AGO, another tanker filled with about 7,000 litres of the same product and the white bus, which gave us the lead to this place is filled with 30 jerricans of 50 litres of AGO each.

“That gives us about 1,500 ltrs. So, in all, we have about 65,500 litres of AGO. If you go by the current price of AGO in the market, that is about N90 million. Supposing all the eight tanks discovered were filled, we would have about 400,000 litres of AGO, which would have amounted to over N500 million.

“From our preliminary findings, they could have gotten the product through pipeline vandalism, illegal vendors at sea, in the name of what we call ROB (Remains on Board), which is from ships that come to the harbour to conduct their operations, and sell whatever they have left in their tanks to people like this suspect to make some quick money, or it could also be through some other illegal means along the coastline either through the operation of private jetties, illegal loading point etc.”

Speaking to THISDAY, the prime suspect, Ariyo, who looked unworried and relaxed without an iota of guilt, explained that he got involved in an illegal oil sale in a private apartment about five years ago.

According to the 47-year-old husband of two wives and father of seven children, “When the Navy people came here, they stood outside the gate and I came down to meet them.

“When they questioned me, I opened up to them that truly I usually take the market from the sea. Sometimes I collect 30 jerricans of the product, 50ltrs each.

“I collect this product from people who work with the staff of the ship attendants as errand boys. They give the errand boys ROBs, which sometimes is 30 jerricans of 50lts of AGO each, or at times it could be 40 jerricans.

“So these errand boys, after collecting these ROBs in turn, sell to me, which I buy from them and resell it as a means of taking care of my own family and children. These 8 tankers’ capacities are 40,000 ltrs each.

“Aside from ROBs, I also lift the product from the depot, and I have the weight bills I am always issued to prove so. I load trailers. Sometimes, I load 50,000 ltrs, sometimes 45,000 ltrs from the depot in Apapa, and I can call the agents that normally load me.

“I know that what I am doing is illegal, but this is how I feed my family. My customers are those who use diesel engine generators spread around Lekki environs here in Lagos. Some come here to buy while I also supply them in their houses with the 50ltrs jerricans. I have been in this business for about 5 years now.

“I got a loan from the bank to begin the business.  I have no helper or parents. The bank gave me N50 million to start the business and I have been paying back monthly.

“For the tanks you saw, I bought them from petrol stations under renovations who want to sell their underground tanks. I bought each of the tanks at N1.5 million. My company is not legally registered with CAC. I am operating the business with my bank account, not a company account.”

While taking possession of the suspects and the exhibits, the Lagos State Commandant, NSCDC, Adedotun Keshinro commended the Nigerian Navy Beecroft considering that one of the economic saboteurs has been arrested.

Expressing shock at the volume of tanks discovered, he reiterated that despite their campaign and efforts, it was worrisome that some individuals could still go to this extent, adding that they would continue their investigation and take the suspects to court for diligent prosecution.

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