By Olasunkanmi Akoni
LAGOS — Lagos State Taskforce on Environment and Special Offences, Enforcement Unit, at the weekend stormed the hideout of a diesel adulterating syndicate at Opebi area of the state, arresting 10 persons in the process.
The team also impounded three oil tankers from the scene. One of the trucks has number plate LAGOS- EKY-251 XF.
The suspects, who were arrested under the Opebi Link-bridge, Ikeja Local Government Area, used to produce and sell adulterated diesel to the unsuspecting members of the public.
The team also impounded several litres of adulterated diesel from the hideout.
It was gathered that the adulterated diesel was produced by mixing large quantity of kerosene with some diesel.
The illegal activities, according to government officials, have impacted negatively on the ecosystem within 100 metres radius.
It’s not adulterated diesel —Suspect
However, one of those arrested, Mr. Saheed Ibrahim, said they were not producing adulterated diesel.
According to him, “the products were bought from the tank farms in Apapa and other authorised locations.”
Ibrahim, who presented some of the bills of laden issued at the ports and the receipts issued to their prospective buyers, said: “We sell kerosene and diesel products in smaller quantity to those who could not approach the tank farms.”
On why they were operating from a hidden environment as against others who do such businesses at the depots, he said: “This is the only location we can carry out the business.”
Ismaila Ashiribo, the driver of one of the impounded tankers, explained that some of the products, especially kerosene, were purchased from a tank farm (name withheld) at Abule-Ado, Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Taskforce chairman, Chief Superintendent of Police Bayo Sulaimon, who led the raid, described the activities as sabotaging the country’s economy.
He said: “This is a situation where some people perpetrate illegal activities. They buy small diesel and kerosene and mix them up. Adulteration is going on here at will. The trucks come into the premises and discharge the products and leave.”
Sulaimon added that after the production exercise, “they approach consumers in the name of registered oil and gas companies and sell these contaminated products to the public.”
The chairman lamented that those arrested used to engage in the activities with business names without known addresses adding: “It is alarming that a lot of vehicles and generating sets would have been damaged by these adulterated products. It is unfortunate.
“We got the information and the combined team of the state Ministry of the Environment and the officers of the taskforce decided that such act must not continue in the state.”
Sources said although the suspects were licensed to operate but not under the bridge. “They do not have approval to operate here. This is a government scheme,” the source said.
He explained that the operators seized the opportunity of the presence of artisans operating few metres from the hideout to carry out their nefarious acts.
“They (artisans) have been asked to vacate the land few months ago but they refused. After today, I assure you that we will not allow them to operate here again. We will be removing the vehicles and the adulterated diesel from this place and the suspects charged to court.”
Sulaimon continued, “Aside the economic sabotage, their activities have impacted negatively on the community. It has led to water pollution and the impact is very severe. We will ensure that due process is followed.”