Operatives of the Inspector-General of Police Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT) have arrested two suspects for allegedly siphoning and selling petroleum products from a pipeline belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the Ejigbo area of Lagos State.
The operatives discovered two wells at Ejigbo area of the state through which the suspects siphoned the fuel.
The two suspects, Mrs. Victoria Ogunsomi (58) and Shafe Abayomi, were believed to be owners of the wells located at 4 and 2, Surprise Avenue Ejibgo, Lagos.
They were arrested by the IRT Unit, headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Abba Kyari.
Ogunsomi and Abayomi were said to have dug 75 foot wells in their compound located a few meters away from the NNPC pipeline and connected pipes with submersible pumping machines into the well, linking with the pipelines.
It was further gathered that whenever the NNPC was transporting its products along the pipeline, Ogunsomi and Abayomi, whose buildings were located side by side, would put on their pumping machines and syphon the products into jerry cans and tanker trucks.
Residents, who were scared that the activities of the suspects would cause fire in the community, alerted IRT Operatives.
The suspects were alleged to have made millions of naira from the business.
A source said: “We got calls from concerned residents in the area about the activities of Victoria and Abayomi who are residents of Surprise Avenue, and had been syphoning petroleum products from the NNPC pipeline located close to their area.
“These suspects dug wells which had underground pipes connected to the NNPC pipeline within the area. “Whenever the NNPC is transporting its products along that pipeline, their products usually surge into those wells and are then pumped into tanker trucks by owners of the wells.
“The big trucks normally come at night to carry the products. Acting on the information, we stormed the buildings and found the wells with pipes and pumps. At Victoria’s apartment, we found jerry cans filled with petroleum products, but Abayomi smartly dismantled the pipes and pumping machine in his well before we got to his compound.
“We’re currently working on tracing and arresting people who have been buying these products from them.”
Ogunsomi and Abayomi denied being pipeline vandals. They, however, said they had regularly scooped petroleum products from the ruptured NNPC pipeline located close to their house.
They added that the petroleum products flowed into their wells, which they sold to people in their neighbourhood. Ogunsomi, a widow, with three children, said: “My late husband bought the land where we built our house in 1984. We dug that well in the year 1999.
“The well was for water, but we later discovered that there was petrol in it. We contacted and alerted our Landlords Association. We all agreed that we would go to the police station, and the local government, but they advised us to go to the NNPC.
“The NNPC sent two delegates, who took samples of the water. After that, they didn’t come again. I have been arrested before by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), because I sold just three jerry cans of this petrol to someone in 2016.
“The Police released me and warned me never to go close to the well again. I’m sorry I went to it again and I was arrested.”