Operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Wednesday engaged a gang of pipeline vandals in a gun duel, recovering about 10,000 litres of petroleum products at Seventh Avenue area of FESTAC Town in Lagos.
The operatives also recovered about 286 jerry-cans of 50-litre fuel from the vandals.
THISDAY gathered that the operatives had earlier mounted surveillance in the area following a tip off from residents who feared that the activities of the vandals could cause another explosion if allowed to continue unabated.
Their fears are not unfounded as pipeline vandalism had recently caused explosion in the area.
Acting on the information at their disposal, the operatives were said to have laid ambush at the wee hours of Wednesday.
Their surveillance paid off when they caught red-handed suspects siphoning fuel from an already ruptured pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Even though they were caught in the act, the heavily armed vandals were said to have opened fire on the operatives prompting the security personnel to return fire in an exercise that lasted over 30 minutes.
Owing to the superior fire power of the operatives, the vandals who were badly wounded during the exchange of fire, abandoned their filled jerry cans and fled in different directions.
Confirming the arrest, the NSDC Commandant, Obafaiye Shem, said though his men could not arrest the vandals, their loots were recovered, adding that the suspects fled due to the superior fire power of his officers.
He said, "Following a tip-off, our men laid ambush for the vandals who have been vandalising pipeline at Seventh Avenue FESTAC. We also blocked them at Ije-Ododo area. On sighting my men, they opened fire on them but we overpowered them and forced them to abandon their looted fuel and fled."
Shem noted that the recovered PMS would be handed over to the NNPC as soon as possible, adding that members of the public should not relent in giving useful information to the operatives as this would assist them in apprehending people sabotaging the nation's economy.