Officials of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit have arrested a pastor and three others over alleged oil theft at Majidun, Ikorodu area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
The pastor (right) and his accomplices at the premises of the Task Force in Alausa, yesterday
At least, 317 fifty-litre kegs of petrol, amounting to 15,850 litres were recovered by the taskforce officials during the raid.
The suspects and the 317 kegs of petrol were brought to the taskforce office at Alausa.
It was revealed that the suspects were arrested around 5 p.m. on Tuesday when the taskforce officials sighted them stealing petrol from NNPC pipeline into 50-litre kegs at Majidun.
In an attempt to arrest the oil thieves, many of them allegedly jumped into the river and escaped.
Three-hundred and seventeen kegs loaded with stolen petrol were later sighted near the Baale’s house.
Investigations led to the arrest of four people in connection with the theft.
Those arrested are 58-year old Oluafin Abejoye, who claimed to be a pastor at the Holy Power Church of Zion; Samson Aliu, 30; Niyi Emorioloye, 21 and Onyekachi Chukwu, 22.
Taskforce Chairman, Bayo Sulaiman, Chief Superitendent of Police, CSP, said that his men came across the kegs of petrol by chance during an operation, saying that they discovered the kegs of petrol very close to the Baale’s house.
He accused residents of the area of engaging in pipeline vandalism and oil theft. Sulaiman said the arrested suspects would be arraigned in court and punished according to the laws of the state, if found guilty.
However, the suspects denied engaging in vandalism, saying that they were wrongly arrested by the taskforce.
Pastor Abejoye said he is not a vandal, but explained that he was aware of the activities of oil vandals in the area.
He described himself as the Primate of the Holy Power Church of Zion.
Another suspect, Emorioloye disclosed that he knew nothing about the act, saying that he was arrested when he came down from a canoe, while Aliu, who claimed to be the son of the leader of the Celestial Church of Christ in the area, also denied engaging in oil theft. Chukwu also denied the allegation.