The Lagos State command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps on Monday arrested two men after intercepting boats laden with over 12,000 litres of petrol.
The suspects allegedly put the petrol in nylon and stored them in sacks.
The command also arrested three others with 43 jerry cans of petrol bought from suspected pipeline vandals.
The spokesman for the command, Mr. Sunday Eromosele, said the suspects were attempting to smuggle the products to neighbouring countries.
He said, “At about 12pm in Ijora, Lagos, on Monday, based on information we got, we intercepted and arrested two suspected oil pipeline vandals on a boat loaded with petrol which they had stored in nylon bags and these nylon bags were stored in sacks. Each sack contained about 120 litres and we were able to recover over 100 sacks.
“Two people were arrested while trying to convey the products and we suspected that they were taking the petrol to a neighbouring country to sell.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that the Iddo Waterfront, where some of the products were kept, was a hideout for suspected pipeline vandals who usually conveyed their products through the lagoon despite the presence of security agents.
Our correspondent learnt that due to the inflammable nature of the product, agents of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency made efforts to forestall a possible inferno.
The command’s Head of Operations, Mr. Austin Chinwuzor, said the modus operandi of the vandals made it difficult for security agents to detect them.
He however said this would not deter the command to nip the crime in the bud.
The General Manager, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osayintolu, said the state government had begun sensitising residents of the dangers inherent in improper storage of fuel.
He advised members of the public to quickly report any case of pipeline vandalism or improper storage of inflammable products in their areas.
The suspects however denied ownership of the product, saying they were paid to convey it to its destination.
One of the suspects, Ade Anthony, who claimed to be a fisherman, denied knowledge of the product he was conveying.
One of the suspects arrested with jerry cans, Wasiu Idowu, told PUNCH Metro that he bought the product from a suspected pipeline vandal at a cheap price.
He said, “Two months ago, I was introduced to one man known as Baba Oke in Ikorodu, who sells fuel at a cheap price. I gathered N70, 000 and started buying petrol from Baba Oke. I store the product in a bush near my house. I make N300 profit on each jerry can.
“Last week, I bought 1,500 litres at N70 per litre as opposed to the N97. I have only bought petrol from Baba Oke three times. I did not know that I was doing illegal business because when I visited Benin Republic, I saw many people buying and selling fuel on the road.
The other two suspects, who are Idowu’s neighbours, denied knowledge of his business.