Timi Koro, 29, one of the suspects arrested in connection with the vandalization of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines at Arepo Village in Ogun State has revealed that the vandals have a strong union in the area.
Koro was arrested by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism along with Wusaina Etipiwey in Abule Oba area of Ikorodu with 50 litre jerry cans of stolen petrol and a pump action gun while alighting from the boat that ferried them to the creeks where NNPC pipelines were vandalised
The newly arrested suspects also alleged to have participated in the killing of the three NNPC staff at Arepo Village, Owode in Ogun state. Confirming the arrest, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Friday Ibadin, who is in charge of the Task Force, said detectives were still on the trail of other vandals involved in the killing of the NNPC officials.
“We are gradually closing in on the notorious Igbekorowa and Tokyo who led the suspected vandals who murdered the NNPC officials last year. It was in the course of our investigation that we got a tip-off that these boys were on their way back from the creeks.
“Policemen, led by Sector Commander, Lagos, DSP Onaghise Osayande, laid ambush and got the two of them arrested while the rest fled. The Task Force will reward anyone with useful information as to the whereabouts of Igbekorowa and Tokyo.”
In his confession at the police station, Timi, 29, said the pump action belonged to one of the leaders of the union and was given to him for safekeeping.
“I joined them two years ago when my timber business was dwindling. In Abule Oba and Konu axis of Ikorodu area, pipeline vandalisation is the main source of making money. They have a strong union in that area and I am yet to be included because of the amount to be paid to be a full member.”
On what really happened to the NNPC officials, Timi said: “The NNPC officials were so unfortunate. The main target was their local security man popularly known as Deadman. For sometime, Deadman has not been co-operating with them by allowing us to tap fuel from any of the ruptured pipeline. Our suspicion heightened when security officers started arresting our people.
“We believed that he was the one that gave them information about our operations in Abule Oba. They agreed at the meeting to kill Deadman. Unfortunately, on the D-day, NNPC officials were there and they were left with no choice but to kill them. No matter how mean they may be, we don’t kill innocent people. Our only enemies are security officers who dare to stop us. Most of them who cooperate with us are our friends.”
Throwing more light on how the gang operates, Timi said: “We work (vandalize pipeline) at least four times a week depending on the demand of the market. We already have different spots that were ruptured and sealed up at the end of each day’s work. With the aid of a long pipe and our own pumping machine, the products would be transferred to the gallons inside the water.
“I am not a major player but whenever they are going, Igbekorowa who used to be my friend before he betrayed me would allow me to join them. At the end of the day, he would pay me commission depending on the number of gallons that I can transport to land safely.
“Assuming I was able to deliver 300 litres, he would pay me N50,000; this is so because I am not a member of their union. They have different types of cars, built houses within Ikorodu and most of their buyers are owners of petrol stations.”
On the whereabouts of Tokyo and Igbekorowa, he said they lived in Ikorodu, adding that they were the major players in vandalization business in Ikorodu. “If security men can arrest Igbekorowa and Tokyo then the business will stop. If I have an idea of where they are, I would personally hand them over to the police.
“They betrayed some of us because we have a strong intelligence group whose duty is to monitor all the security officers that were assigned to hunt us down. We also have our patrol team that move with us during every operation. The team which is made up of nine able bodied men, move with all kinds of guns including grenade.
“No one can stop them unless they arrest Igbekorowa. Tokyo was involved in the last explosion and is currently in Ondo where he is receiving treatment. We are just the boys; the main vandals are out there.”
The second suspect, Etipiwey, 27, said hunger led him to the pipeline vandalism business.
“I was lucky to have survived the blast that happened last year. I had sworn to myself that I will not join them again but when there was no other source of livelihood, I had no choice but to call Tokyo who allowed me to join them.” On their arrest, Etipiwey accused Igbekorowa of betrayal.
“I do not know how Igbekorowa gets information that security men are close by. If the pressure is much, he would lure some of us who are not part of the union to a point where the police would arrest us.
“We are just the boys that do help them to transport the products from the river to the land,” he said.