A suspected member of a syndicate vandalising pipelines of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Jamiu Ajani, said yesterday he did not know selling petrol obtained from the act amounted to crime.
Ajani was arrested alongside his accomplices, Demola Lawrence and Raymond, by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Pipeline Vandalism, which recovered 300 units of 50-litre jerry cans loaded with premium motor spirit, PMS, from them.
The 30-year-old said:
“I used to sell building materials at Ketu before venturing into this business. It was some of my customers from Ikorodu that got me into the business.
I discovered that they were making more money than I. So I begged them to show me the way. They said I could not go into the creeks because I do not know how to swim, but I could always buy and sell the products to people who need it.
I was introduced to some buyers at Ijora and some other parts of Lagos State. I buy a 50-litre jerry can for N2,000 and I sell it for N4,000.
On my first job one month ago, I bought 250 50-litre jerry cans for N500,000 from an Ijaw woman, known as Mama Bose, and I sold them for N1,000,000.
The second job was just last week and I bought 150 jerry cans of 50 litres for N300,000. My biggest job was the one that led to my arrest. I bought 300 jerry cans from Mama Bose for N600,000 and I was hoping to make a profit of over N600,000.
My boy, Damilola, the driver of the truck we were using and I were intercepted by police on our way to supply the products to a buyer. I did not know selling petrol from vandalised pipelines was a crime."
The syndicate was intercepted by the task force at Owode area of Ikorodu in a Chevrolet truck, while transporting the stolen products to buyers in various parts of Lagos State.
Commander of the task force, Olumese Valentine, disclosed during a chat with Vanguard that, members of the syndicate operate within Ikorodu area of the state.
“This syndicate is the main reason vandals are still operating at Arepo. They are the ones receiving the products from the vandals and then sell to those who would sell to end users.
It is a large syndicate with lots of people involved. I received a tip-off and directed the Lagos Sector Commander of the task force, ASP Akelere Adetayo, to track them down. If we do not clamp down on this syndicate, the vandals will always remain in businesses.”
The task force commander said the suspects would be charged to court at the completion of investigation.