Recent reports from Pipelines and Products Marketing Company Limited, PPMC, show that Nigeria lost about N165 billion to pipeline vandalism in the last four years.
In Lagos State, several cases of pipeline vandalism were recorded in the last four weeks with the Ijedodo explosion which raged for almost three days last December standing out among the pack.
Only a fortnight ago, trouble, some members of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were brutalised by vandals when the Corps visited their hide out at Majidun, an outskirt of Ikorodu. The undeterred corps allegedly arrested about 60 suspects on that day. Penultimate Monday, another set of pipeline vandals were caught in the illicit business in the Epe, just a few days after about 50 people were roasted to death at Arepo.
Against this backdrop, chieftains of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have vowed to deal ruthlessly with those caught in the illegitimate business of vandalising petroleum pipelines.
Commandant General of NSCDC, Dr. Ade Abolurin represented by the Deputy Commandant General, DCG, in-charge of Operations, Mr. Evans Ewurum says the corps has mapped new strategies to expose activities of vandals across the country.
Ewurum who led a delegation to the scene of the recent explosion at Arepo regretted that the occurrence of pipeline vandalism has reached an alarming stage in the country. He therefore gave vandals a minimum of one week to relocate from the country or face the wrath of the agency.
"My appeal to vandals especially those who are still hibernating around this area, is to relocate between now and the end of the week. They should relocate to other countries because Nigeria will be too hot for them. In their own interest, they should relocate or get ready for our onslaught," he warned.
The DCG said the purpose of his visit to Arepo was not to sympathise with the vandals but to take a holistic view of the area and make recommendations to appropriate authorities.
" The essence of my visit is to look at the terrain, study the situation and the environment with a view to coming up with the recommendation and implementation strategies that will ensure that this place is given the right patrol so that the issue of vandalism is totally eradicated. I want to use my office to take the holistic survey of this place and do things the way the vandals don't expect," he said.
He urged residents to release information about the hideouts of these vandals in their various communities, "I urge residents to stop harbouring vandals and assist security agencies to fight the battle against criminality in this country. One of the challenges we have is that people don't want to release information about vandals and this is posing a great problem to the corps. It is not the president's responsibility to go to the creeks to identify the vandals but our own responsibilities and we must expose them before more havoc is done," he said.
Ewurum said the confusion that led to the Arepo disaster was an answered prayer. The corps, according to him, had instituted a prayer team to expose vandals in the country. "When we received an intelligence report that vandals were operating at Arepo, we set up a team to pray against them and God set confusion into their midst. Although we are not happy about their death, but this will serve as a deterrent to others," he said.
Vandalism and the nation's economy
Ewurum who described oil as a major source of revenue in Nigeria, stated that if the activities of these vandals are not checked, the nation's economy will be adversely affected.
"If vandalism continues, our revenue will diminish rapidly and many of us will suffer because we depend on oil for survival. As for NSCDC, we shall use everything at our disposal to eradicate cases of vandalism. This is a battle we must fight and win. We are coming up with a new strategy. I know my presence will make them to shiver because I have come back with more ideas and strategies to deal with them, we shall not rest on our oars until we combat the menace," he added.