By Michael Eboh
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Tuesday, said security agencies guarding oil installations had captured Mr. Shuaibu Ogunmola, an alleged kingpin of oil pipeline vandalism in Lagos.
In a statement in Abuja by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, the NNPC said this was following concerted efforts by its management and security agencies who are working to combat the menace of oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
Ughamadu explained that the illegal activities of Ogunmola had through the years, led to loss of millions of litres of products along the Lagos Atlas Cove strip in the strategic System 2B pipeline network.
Ughamadu disclosed that Shuaibu was captured recently at his luxury hotel in Ilashe community, along the Badagry Creek by officers and men of Operation Awatse, a Joint Military Task Force on oil theft and pipeline vandalism anchored by the Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos.
He explained that investigations thus far revealed that Shuaibu had operated a thriving oil theft racket for decades, hacking pipelines in some island communities in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State along the System 2B network right- of- way.
Providing details on the mode of operation of the Shuaibu-led syndicate, Ughamadu said, “The gang executed their illegal trade by digging holes metres away from the corporation’s products pipeline, which essentially serve as storage tanks for products directly siphoned from the lines at a hack point.
“These holes which are cast in drums receive products simultaneously from the labyrinth of pipelines connected to the trunk line directly linked to the ruptured NNPC line. The products so harvested are later scoped or transferred into jerrycans and drums and are sold to ready buyers who usually throng the beachside.”
From that point, the NNPC spokesperson stated that the products were shipped to Cotonou which has a firmly established market for smuggled Nigerian fuel.
Commenting on the significance of the arrest of the notorious oil theft kingpin, Rear Admiral Obed Ngalabak, Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, who also doubles as the Commander of Operation Awatse, said the feat was the beginning of a well mapped out strategy to halt the menace of pipeline vandals across the zone.
He explained that Shuaibu was the ultimate godfather of oil thieves in Ilashe and adjoining settlements where he consigned portions of his territory and offered operating rights to other thieves to operate and bring in returns at agreed rates and terms.
Rear Admiral Ngalabak said investigation revealed that the Ilashe pipeline axis have been divided into three ‘oil fields’ by the criminals under the operating titles of Shuaibu Point, Dele Point and Bashiru Point.
He assured that in the days ahead the culprit would be handed over to the appropriate authority for prosecution while efforts are in place to ensure prompt arrest of other members of the syndicate.
Sam Otoboeze, General Manager in charge of the Group Security Department of the NNPC in his response, described the capture of Ogunmola as a victory in the fight against the nefarious activities of pipeline marauders.
He said with the feat, criminals in the dirty business would now know that the game has come to an end.
Otoboeze thanked the NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, for providing the much-needed support to the NNPC security team and the military in the last three years, enabling the corporation to sustain the tempo of the fight against the unrepentant oil thieves.