The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Cross River State has frustrated an attempt to vandalise a pipeline of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited at a tank farm in Calabar.
This was made known on Monday by the Commandant of the NSCDC in Cross River State, Mr. Samuel Fadeyi.
The commandant paraded the suspect, identified as Gabriel Ajom in Calabar, during which he said the suspect was arrested on August 26, 2022.
The suspect is a security guard attached to a moribund tank farm, Mettle Energy and Gas, where the pipeline was connected to. Items recovered from the site of the incident included a shovel, connecting pipes, buckets and knives.
Fadeyi explained that the suspect was arrested by his men who were on surveillance patrol along with the maintenance unit of Latee Jay company, a private company that monitors pipelines in the state.
He said, during the surveillance, they noticed a small collapse hole around the area, suggesting that there was a pit in between.
“The NSCDC officials dug the hole and they discovered that it was actually a tunnel, leading from the moribund tank farm, Mettle Energy and Gas, into the pipeline.
“Further investigation showed that they had some equipment which they were actually going to use to connect to the pipeline, breach it and then syphon petroleum product.
“This whole digging took place underground, such that one will not know what was going on. The tunnel leads to the tank farm at one end and the other leads to the pipeline.
“We have commenced investigation, and the suspect is helping to give us credible information on those behind this illegal act,” he said.
According to him, the act was committed by a cartel. He noted that the NSCDC personnel would also arrest those at large.
Fadeyi also said the owners of the tank farm must have permitted the illegal act, adding that it took a month to dig the pit to breach the NNPC pipeline.
He said the distance of the tunnel to the NNPC pipeline was about 100 metres, adding that the suspects had already finished the digging and were waiting to connect their own pipe to the NNPC pipeline.
“Oil theft has been a major problem; in fact, it has dominated the major discourse in the country right now because of the effect on the nation’s economy.
“Last week, the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Dr Abubakar Audi, read a Riot Act to commands in the Niger Delta particularly on the need to strengthen the anti-vandal team.
“That message was passed unto my men and you can see the result. I can assure you that the perpetrators of this act won’t be spared,” he said.
The suspect, Ajom, confessed to the crime, saying, “Two men came into my office and said they wanted to help me make some money. They asked me to allow them to dig the pipeline and I did.
“They asked me not to panic that I was going to make huge amount of money. They gave me N500 on the first day they came.
“They went and brought people from Port Harcourt, who dug this tunnel day and night. They promised that when they want to lay the pipes, they will give me huge amount of money.”
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