Officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Lagos State Command and the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-pipeline Vandalism, at the weekend uncovered illegal oil wells in both Lagos and Kogi States respectively.
The operatives of the NSCDC had at Alimatu Ilo Street, Ejigbo, Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Area of Lagos State, discovered wells dug to the level of oil pipelines, where products suspected to be petroleum products were siphoned into trucks by vandals.
THISDAY gathered that the operatives had also discovered that most houses on the street had wells filled with fuel because some of the landlord had dug these wells to the level of the oil pipelines.
Confirming the incident, the Commandant, Lagos Command, Mr. Clement Adesuyi, said eight of the owners of the buildings were already in the custody of the corps, adding that the corps would not rest until the battle to stop vandalism was completely won. But the suspects had since denied complicity in the said act.
Rather, they stressed that the oil wells were a recent development that took them completely unawares.
One of the suspects who was identified as Mrs. Funke Ogungba, who said she had lived on that street for about eight years, claimed that the leakage of fuel into their borehole was a recent development.
Another suspect, Mr. Aromasogo, a 60-year-old, contractor, who was arrested with his wife and three children, claimed that he bought his home six years ago from its original owner with the borehole already there.
He said: “I didn’t dig that borehole. It was purchased along with the house. All the while, we have pumped water from it until a few years when we noticed it pumped sand during the dry season. That was when we locked the well up and dug another borehole.
“It was until last Thursday that I discovered there was fuel in the well. I reported to the Ejigbo police division and they came with some NNPC officials. We were told they would seal the well up this Monday.
“In fact, it is general knowledge that lots of homes in Animatu Ilo have fuel going to their boreholes. The landlords association had complained several time to the NNPC. I just didn’t know I was affected and I never sold fuel to anyone in tankers.”
Meanwhile, operatives of the Inspector-General of Police, Special Taskforce on Pipeline Vandalism, Kogi State Sector, also uncovered a well filled with crude oil in a compound located at Gegu, Koton Karafi Local Government Area of the state.
THISDAY gathered that the said compound, which was about 30 meters from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline in the area, belongs to one Mallam Mohammed, who is currently at large.
Preliminary investigations also uncovered several overhead tanks which belonged to one Alhaji Suleiman Mohammed, a pure water factory manufacturer in the area.
Also confirming the incident, the officer-in-charge of the taskforce, Friday Ibadin, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), said the operatives swooped on the area based on intelligence report, which disclosed that some individuals were carting away gallons of crude oil from a village in Kogi State.
He said policemen led by Kogi State Sector Commander, Dawn Eremie, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), stormed the premises and discovered a well filled with crude oil belonging to one Mohammed.
He said: “Empty kegs were also spotted littered in the compound. The owner of the house disappeared while his wife, who was met in the compound, claimed that they discovered that their well was filled with crude oil.
“She, however, admitted that they made attempts to scoop the oil in a bid to get clean water for domestic use. In the course of investigation, it was also discovered that the nearby pure water factory, which belongs to one Alhaji Suleiman Mohammed, also had crude oil filled in its tank.
“Investigations are ongoing, while we are still on the trail of the owner of the house, who currently is at large and others, who might be part of this illegal business.”
While commending the boldness of the informant, who alerted the police, he said, “It could have resulted into a disaster, if there was any form of fire outbreak. We will continue to sensitise people on the reason why they should not develop houses along NNPC right of way.”
One of the suspects, Mohammed has since maintained his innocence, claiming that he woke up and discovered that all his overhead tanks were filled with crude oil.
But he was said to have alerted neighbours who then lined up with their kegs to collect the crude oil and it was gathered that they were still in the act when the police stormed the area and rounded them up.
Information from This Day was used in this report.