BY EVELYN USMAN
LAGOS — Operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on anti pipeline vandalism have arrested a former staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Bashiru Majorette, while allegedly siphoning petroleum product at Odi Ifediwo area of Ogun State.
Preliminary investigation, according to officer in-charge of the unit, Friday Ibadin,an Assistant Commissioner of Police, revealed that the suspect was dismissed from the NNPC following his alleged connivance with pipeline vandals.
He was subsequently arrested, arraigned and sentenced to five years imprisonment and was recently released.
Surprisingly, the suspect disclosed that while in prison, he formed an association with other vandals, with a view to continuing with the illegal business after serving their respective jail terms.
He said he opted to connive with pipeline vandals while still working, following what he described as ill-treatment by the NNPC.
According to him, “I was employed by NNPC to guard the pipeline in 2002. My records are there that my line was always protected because I never allowed vandals to go near the area I was guarding. They (vandals) had approached me severally with thousands of naira but I refused because I wanted a clean record and hoped that I would be promoted.
“But along the line, I discovered that NNPC officials were ingrates. They were in their offices wearing tie, while I was left in the bush to protect pipeline and was given stipends. We complained severally and were told that the contractor who employed us on behalf of NNPC was the one that should be held responsible.
“I decided to help myself to survive out there in the bush. Whenever they wanted to operate, I would pretend as if I never knew that they were there unless NNPC officials at the technical room discovered a drop and raised an alarm that vandals were in my area.
Vandals can be deadly
“It was only then that I started enjoying the dividend of the job because all this while I had risked my life for nothing. Those vandals can be deadly, if you do not allow them to work. This explains why most of our security men prefer to allow them to function with impunity. Those days, I was dreaded because I used all within my reach to protect the pipelines.”
Arrest and conviction
On his arrest and conviction, Bashiru accused one Dosumu of betraying him by informing NNPC that he was allowing vandals to operate.
He said: “Dosumu was sacked because NNPC suspected him. He came to me and asked to operate in my area and I refused. He decided to leak my secret to NNPC. Normally, whenever there is a drop in pressure, we would be alerted and to reduce the heat on us or the vandals, we would tell them that there was a leakage. Dosumu, out of envy, reported that all those leakages were the activities of vandals and that I was very much aware.
“I was at our weekly meeting on September 14, 2008, when policemen came and arrested me. I was later told that there was a petition against me, alleging that I was into NNPC pipeline vandalisation. I was remanded in prison and later convicted to five years imprisonment by Justice Okeke.”
Many pipeline vandals in prison
In prison, Bashiru met most of the vandals in prison and quickly joined their association.
He said: “I was shocked at the number of pipeline vandals that I knew that were in Ikoyi prison. I tried my best to secure my bail but failed because I did not have enough money to pay lawyers.
“I resigned to my fate and joined the association, and since I had more information, I became an authority in the group. Those who were able to secure their bail ensured that our interests were protected in all their deals. They paid our own share of the money in our accounts while we controlled deals outside through our phones. The guys outside knew the importance of keeping to the agreement before they left because one day, they would be arrested and brought to the prison.”
My release from prison
On his release from prison, Bashiru said: “On May 16, 2012, I was released from prison after five years. Normally, anyone that was released would be advised to go underground. This was what I did but I never knew that the police had got my number and was tracking my calls through some vandals that were in their net.
“Unfortunately, that night I was patrolling the area to alert those in the bush whenever I spotted security operatives. Two men accosted me and I thought they were marketers and I stopped. It was when they slapped me that I realised that they were security operatives. I couldn’t believe that I was heading back to the prisons. My plan was to raise money and start my own business.
How he was arrested
“Please, Nigerians should help me to appeal to the police to give me another chance. There was no other way for me to survive than to go back to the same crime. I am very sorry.”
Explaining how he was arrested, Ibadin said: “Police got a tip off that vandals were operating in Odi Ifediwo area of Ogun State.
“Policemen led by Sector Commander, Lagos, DSP Onaghise Osayande, cordoned off the area and in the process arrested Bashiru. They also recovered a DAF truck with number plate XJ359DKA as well as the spot where they planted three valves with hose of about 100 metres. I was shocked to realise that Bashiru whom I arrested five years ago was freed and was back to the same crime.”