Lagos — A group of suspected pipeline vandals, at the early hours of yesterday, engaged men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, in a gun duel at 7th Avenue, FESTAC Town, Lagos.
The vandals, numbering about nine, were reportedly siphoning petroleum product from a broken pipeline when the operatives swooped on them.
Sighting the operatives, the vandals, reportedly opened fire and also attempted to set the pipeline on fire.
However, at the end of the gun duel said to have lasted 30 minutes, the vandals managed to escape.
The operatives, according to the Lagos State NSCDC Commandant, Obafaiye Shem, recovered 286 50 litres jerry cans filled with Premium Motor Spirit (Petrol).
Shem explained that his men got wind of the vandals' operation the previous day and consequently mounted surveillance at about 7p.m (Tuesday) till 1 a.m. yesterday.
He said: "Following a tip-off, our men laid ambush for the vandals who have been vandalising NNPC pipeline at 7th Avenue FESTAC. While a team was at FESTAC, another laid ambush for the vandals at Ije-Ododo area. On sighting my men, they opened fire but we overpowered them and forced them to abandon their looted fuel and fled."
The recovered product, he said, would be handed over to NNPC, urging members of the public to continue to avail the Corps of useful information that would assist it in checkmating activities of vandals .
Meantime, five suspected oil pipeline vandals have been paraded by the Ondo State Command of the NSCDC.
This was contained in a statement by the Public Relations Officer of the NSCDC in the state, Mr. Kayode Balogun, yesterday.
Balogun said the suspects were arrested in a Toyota car with number plate FD 848 LSR at Omotosho village on the Ore-Sagamu expressway.
According to him, the people were carrying items suspected to be used in vandalizing oil pipelines which included, two pumping machines, one big generator, one welding machine and other tools.
Balogun added that the arrest was made possible based on the synergy among the security agencies in the state as the suspects were arrested by men of the 19 Battalion of the Nigerian Army.
He said the military authorities thereafter handed over the people and the exhibits to the NSCDC commands headquarters in Alagbaka.
The suspects according to him include John Olivia; Damilola Ogunyemi; Olusegun Ogunduboye;Ayo Omoba Omogbehinmi;and Alhaji Oloruntimilehin Owalele.
Balogun said in the statement that all of them had since been charged to court and were currently being remanded at the Olokuta prisons in Akure.
He added that the NSCDC commandant in the state, Alhaji Waheed Popoola had vowed that his men would continue to wage war against saboteurs of the country's economy.
He pleaded with the residents of the state to cooperate with security operatives by giving them useful information which could help to free the state of pipeline vandalism.
Balogun said in a related development one Seun Abraham who allegedly used his Nissan Primera car, marked EX 30 AAA to load stolen diesel suspected to have been siphoned from a vandalized oil pipeline.
Abraham according to him had confessed during interrogation to have bought the product from bunkerers because he had no means of livelihood.