Following a fresh oil pipeline fire on Wednesday, operatives of the Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism have arrested four suspects.
The suspects, Wale Onana, Owekeware Ekperemor, Ebimiru Yeyha and Truce Irojuwho, were said to be on their way back from the creek when they were arrested.
Suspects allegedly started the fire in an attempt to stop Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation from erecting a platform that could aid security agents in having better access to the area.
One of the suspects, Onana, said they simply obeyed the orders of one of their leaders, who he only identified as Igbekorowa.
He said, “We learnt that NNPC was mounting a platform close to the creeks and that would be bad business for us. It was agreed that we would try and stop them pending when we must have gotten enough supply that we can manage before another spot is discovered.
“On January 22, 2012, we sneaked in through the river at about 12am and fetched few gallons of petrol. While we were leaving, Yukun lit a cigarette and threw it at the ruptured part and the fire started again.
“On our way back, Igbekorowa asked us to move ahead of him, saying that he and Yukun would follow us behind. Unknown to us, policemen were hiding in the bush and they arrested us.”
According to Police authorities, Igbekorowa, who was mentioned as the leader, is one of the notorious vandals accused of killing three NNPC officials last year.
Igbekorowa and another vandal, popularly known as Togo, had been on the wanted list of the police for quite some time.
Meanwhile, the trial of six alleged vandals of petroleum pipeline at Arepo, will resume today (Friday) at a Federal High Court, Lagos, after the last proceedings were stalled by the prosecutor, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Friday Ibadin.
The accused were alleged to have, on September 5, at about 6.00 p.m., at Arepo, conspired to vandalise an NNPC oil pipeline located in the vicinity. In the process, they were alleged to have murdered three employees of the NNPC.
Among the accused, who had on November 29, 2012, pleaded not guilty to the seven counts preferred against them by the prosecution, was a 60-year-old community leader, Oluwole Reuben.
Others arraigned along with him were Inerepamu Ijebu Joel (25), John Aye Isaiah (28), Ineye Okposa (40), Timi Gunugunu (22) and Saheed Olisa Mudashiru (25). Employees of NNPC allegedly killed by the accused were, Agbaku OAU, Ernest Ngene and Ikechukwu Ikenem.
After the arraignment, the matter was scheduled to proceed on trial on December 18, 2012, but the absence of Ibadin and complaints by some of the defence lawyers that they were just briefed made the judge to adjourn till today.