Operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft in Apapa, Lagos, have raided villages on Atlas Cove Island of the state, recovering 1,330 jerrycans (about 33,250 litres) of fuel allegedly stolen from the pipelines of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC.
According to the navy, the security of the pipelines was contracted to a firm, Top Line Security Limited.
The villages are Ilado-Odo, Idi Mangoro, Ilashe Corner Loss and Sarkin Juju Point.
Apart from the fuel seized during the naval raid, our correspondent, who visited the communities on Saturday, saw hundreds of empty jerrycans in deserted wooden huts.
Our correspondent also saw two vehicles reportedly used by the vandals to transport fuels for onward delivery to Benin Republic and Togo.
PUNCH Metro was also shown one of the pipelines along Ilado-Odo Phase II waterways reportedly broken by the assailants.
The pipeline was a few metres away from a security watchtower allegedly used by guards working for the private security outfit.
It was learnt that the suspected vandals attached valves on the broken parts of the pipelines, which they regulated to steal fuel as it was pumped by the corporation.
A resident of the areas, who claimed to have been living in Ilado-Odo since 2014, said she was not aware of the activities of the vandals.
The woman, Nana Feyisetan, said, “I was born in Ghana. I relocated to this village in 2014. I don’t know that some people have been vandalising pipelines here. I am aware that the OPC (Oodua Peoples Congress) members come for guard duty every night.”
The Commander, NNS Beecroft, Rear Admiral Maurice Eno, said his men went to the areas on surveillance after an intelligence report.
He said, “The base monitored the activities around the areas for about three weeks and on December 14, 2017, at 8.10am, a detachment of personnel from the NNS Beecroft raided the locations and discovered a storage facility with 1,500 jerrycans, out of which 1,330 contained product suspected to be Premium Motor Spirit believed to have been siphoned from the NNPC pipelines on the Island.”
Eno explained that no arrest was made during the raid. He noted that the product had been evacuated to the base for onward handover to the NNPC.
Efforts by our correspondent to get the reaction of Top Line Security Limited were unsuccessful as calls put across to its Administrative Officer, John Udeme, went unanswered. He had also yet to reply to an enquiry sent to him on the allegation.
Meanwhile, the Oodua Peoples Congress refuted the claim that its members were involved in the pipeline security on the Island.
The OPC Director of Publicity, Mr. Yinka Oguntimehin, in a statement on Sunday, said the group had not been involved in any pipeline security since June 15, 2015, adding that it had no link with Top Line Security Limited.