The state Commandant of NSCDC, Mrs Obiageli Obiajulu, disclosed this while addressing newsmen shortly after the seizure on Sunday at NIPCO filling station in Amawbia, near Awka.
“I got information that there was a vehicle offloading some petroleum product and when we got here, we realised that the vehicle was not licensed to convey petroleum products.
“The driver ran away on sighting civil defence personnel; the vehicle however, appears like a container, but inside it is an inbuilt tank.
“The product was inside the tank and they used bags of saw dust to cover it just to mask the actual illegal business they do.
“Their method of conveyance is enough proof that the owner of the vehicle was patronising illegal bunkering, because you cannot take this truck to NNPC or any licensed depot to off load,” Obiajulu said.
The commandant, who noted that this had been the mode of operation of illegal petroleum dealers recently, described it as “economic sabotage.’’
According to her, if it is the right business, the driver and those off-loading the product into the underground tanks will not run away.
“We are condemning in totality, people who aid illegal bunkering of petroleum products. They are thieves, because they deprive citizens of their benefits from government.
“How can government get the required money to fix infrastructure, pay salaries and take care of the social needs of the people,” she asked.
Obiajulu also wondered why the owner of the filling station would allow such illegality to go on in his facility.
The commandant warned filling station owners to be mindful of what they use their premises to do, noting that sooner or later, the arms of the law would catch up with them.
She said the agency would carry out further investigation in order bring those behind the illegal business to book; while the confiscated vehicle would be used as exhibit in their prosecution.
Obiajulu, commended the leadership of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) for exposing the illegal business and for supporting the efforts of NSCDC in the state.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the National Coordinator of IPMAN’s Anti-Pipeline Vandalism and Petroleum Products Adulteration, Mr Nixon Ahanonu, said the body was determined to curtail pipeline vandalism and petroleum products adulteration.
“The National President of IPMAN has given us this task to make sure that we curtail the menace of anti-pipeline vandalism in the country.
“Illegal activities like this affect the dealings of independent petroleum dealers.
“It jeopardises our distribution channels and makes it impossible to know when our members are being short changed,” he said.
While warning members to desist from the illegal businesses, the national coordinator said the affected filling station would taste the wrath of IPMAN.