By EVELYN USMAN
Naval operatives attached to NNS BEECROFT, Apapa, Lagos at the early hours of yesterday,engaged some pipeline vandals who were siphoning petroleum products from a vandalised pipeline, in a shoot-out, at Majidun area of Ikorodu.
At the end of the shoot-out,five suspects,among them a nursing mother were arrested,with the recovery of a total of 126 jerrycans filled with the siphoned products.
Also recovered were four boats used by the suspected vandals.
Parading the suspects before newsmen, the Commander NNS Beecroft, Commodore Chris Ezekobe, said the suspects were among several others who had allegedly converted Majidun area into a safe haven for their criminal activities. He explained that the arrest was sequel to an intelligence report received that vandals were operating in the area following which a team of naval operatives mounted surveillance at the area.
”Yesterday morning, at about 2am, the Naval men stormed the water front at Majidun area of Ikorodu. The vandals opened fire at the approaching security men.
”In the exchange of gun fire, some of the vandals abandoned their already syphoned products and fled. “ Ezekobe said.
During the operation, Ezekobe said it was observed that the villagers were aiding and abating the illicit business,informing that plans were ongoing to carry out raid in the area with a view to arresting those involved.
He further explained that the raid on vandals which is ongoing was in-line with the Chief of the Naval Staff zero tolerance to illegal bunkering and pipe line vandalism.
However, it is sad to note that after much effort is put at arresting these vandals, they are released the next moment.
”If there was casualty or the damage of equipment on our side during the operation, how does one explain the death to the deceased family or how will one explain damaged equipment to the authority. We put in so much only for someone to set them free” he said.
However, the suspects denied the allegation,saying they were only at the scene for their daily bread.
The nursing mother who identified herself as Elizabeth Akinbotu claimed She was around the area to fetch fire wood when the operatives stormed,adding that she was arrested in her bid to escape in one of the boats.
Others identified as Segun Ogunsemore( 22) and Muni Ogunsemore( 20). Who are brothers claimed they were only going to check their fish nets when they were apprehended.
Their claim according to Ezekobe would be determined at the end of preliminary investigation,evenas he warned vandals to stay clear of the Command’s juridiction or have same fate befall them.