The Special Protection Unit of the Lagos State Police Command has apprehended a 19-year-old bricklayer, Taiye Mufutau and a trader, Rabiu Mohamed, for allegedly stealing electric cables belonging to the Lagos State Electricity Board.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the suspects were arrested around Eko Bridge on Tuesday after some of the company’s security guards spotted them.
The suspects were said to have fled into an electricity unit where one of them was nearly electrocuted.
Mohammed, a 30-year-old man, said he had only stolen electric cables twice. He blamed his action on unemployment and unfavourable policies of the state government.
He said, “I was a scavenger. I used to sell metal scrap which I conveyed with my wheel barrow. This is what I used to feed my wife and daughter.
“However, when the state government came up with a law banning street hawking and other similar jobs, task force operatives started disturbing me. They seized five wheel barrows from me.
“When the trouble became too much, I couldn’t get any other means of livelihood, I decided to start stealing electric cables. The first one I stole, I sold it for N4, 000.”
Mufutau attributed his involvement to greed, adding that Mohammed introduced him to the crime.
The indigene of Kwara State said, “Mohammed called me around 4am that we should go and steal some cables around Eko Bridge.
“I have never gone with him before but because he gave me N1,000 the last time he stole, I decided to follow him. We had not even finished our operation when security men started pursuing us.
“As I ran into an electric unit, I was shocked by a naked wire. I almost lost my life.”
The Lagos State Electricity Board, an agency under the state Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources is responsible for energy development and independent power projects as well street lighting.
The Head of Electrification Department, Mr. Adebayo Adeeko, said vandalism was on the increase and urged members of the public to report such cases to the police.
He said, “Vandalism and cable theft are on the rise. That is why most of the streetlights are not functioning. The vandals usually wait for outage before they operate.
“The cables are very expensive but the culprits usually sell them at cheap prices to electronic dealers.”
The HOD Public Lighting, Mr Kasali Ambali, said the Eko Bridge, Agege Motor Road, Ahmadu Bello Way and Bar Beach area as well as Obafemi Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, are some of the areas affected by faulty street lights due to vandalised cables.