Soldiers of the 35 Artillery Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Abeokuta, have arrested a herbalist and 27 other persons for allegedly vandalising the pipelines of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Ajura village on Ogere Road, Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State.
The soldiers, in a joint operation with the operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the state, arrested the suspects about 8.30 pm on Sunday following a tip-off by some residents.
The suspects were said to have attempted to siphon fuel from the vandalised pipelines.
The Commanding Officer, 35 Artillery Brigade, Brig-Gen. David Ahmadu, while conducting journalists round the scene on Monday, described the act as an economic sabotage.
Ahmadu explained that the collaboration between the two security agencies in the state had yielded a positive results with the success of the joint operation during which the vandals were arrested.
He said, “What has happened is actually the collaborative efforts of security agencies and I am using this opportunity to sound a note of warning to persons who may want to indulge in such act of criminality to desist from it. We will not allow any act of criminality in Ogun state and Nigeria in general as far as pipeline vandalism and any other criminal acts are concerned.”
The state Commandant, NSCDC, Mr. Akinwande Aboluwaye, who also spoke with newsmen at the scene, said 28 persons were arrested for the vandalism.
He also said seven vehicles, 363 plastic containers, a long hose and some objects believed to be charms, were part of the exhibits recovered from the suspects.
However, during their parade at the Alamala Barracks, Abeokuta, one of the suspects, Monday Bitrus, alleged that one Sergeant Adamu, attached to a police station in Ogere, was one of those sponsoring the activities of the vandals in the area.
The 20-year-old Bitrus from Katsina State, claimed that he joined the pipeline vandals two months ago, adding that about five policemen usually provided them security whenever they were carrying out their activities.
Another suspect, Ibrahim Wasiu, 22, said, “I was lured by my friend popularly called Owoseni because I was financially down. But after I loaded the first vehicle and about loading the next one, the Army just came and stopped us.”
On the involvement of the police in the vandalism, Wasiu said, “Before our arrest, I could count five to six policemen who were always with us.”
The Army later handed over the suspects to the NSCDC which pledged to charge them to court as soon as investigation was concluded.