Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Command, arrested a trader, John Gere, and his wife, Queen Gere, as well as three others for alleged pipeline vandalism.
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The Commandant General, who was represented by the Deputy Commandant General in charge of operations, Mr. Evans Ewurum, said the suspects were arrested in Epe on Monday.
"They were arrested in Epe and they even attacked some of the officers who went for the raid. We recovered from them more than 20 kegs of petrol. They will be charged to court and the exhibit will be handed over to either the police, court or Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation as the case may be," he said.
The suspects, however, denied being pipeline vandals, saying that they were arrested unjustly by overzealous NSCDC operatives.
One of the suspects, Favour Egboh, said, "I live at Temu Village, Epe and I buy diesel from trailers. The trailers I buy diesel from do not have company names written on them. I went into this business because of my condition.
"I have three children and no husband. I’m presently suffering from diabetes and I have my medicine here with me. I went to buy my medicine from a chemist nearby and they arrested me on my way back."
Asked how much she sold diesel, she said, "I buy it at the rate of N3,500 for 30 litres and sell it for N4,000 naira or N3,750. I buy 50 litres for N7,000 and sell for N7,500. I use the money I get from my business to take care of my three children."
Queen denied complicity, saying that she was arrested by the operatives when she came to secure Egboh’s release.
"I don’t sell diesel. I sell spirits and I don’t even live in Epe. My sister [Egboh] sells diesel. I went to plead that she should be released and they arrested me too," she said.
Queen’s husband corroborated her story, saying he was also arrested after his wife called him to secure her release. He said he was not a pipeline vandal and urged the operatives to release him.
He said, "I stay at Ishala. I sell spirits. I went to buy a large quantity of spirits in a drum when my wife called me that her sister was arrested. I rushed down to the place. My wife said she came out and met with the civil defence officials and they arrested her. They asked if I was the husband and they arrested me when I said 'yes'.
"My vehicle was attacked by armed robbers on Wednesday and my boys that were in it were injured. I have not even found the vehicle and these people have come to inflict on me more pains."
Meanwhile, the DCG in charge of operations as well as other senior officers, visited Arepo area of Ogun State on Tuesday where a pipeline explosion occurred, killing scores.
Ewurum described the incident as suicide and urged members of the public to continue to provide the corps with information that could lead to more arrests.
The corps boss also gave vandals a seven-day grace to vacate the area or face the wrath of the law.
"I give oil pipeline vandals seven days to evacuate the area and relocate to another country or else they will face fire. We will comb the area and descend upon them without mercy," he said.
Ewurum added that the corps needed a helicopter to carry out more surveillance as this would go a long way in aiding their job.