A Favourable Terrain for Oil Thieves

Ibikunle Amosun
Ibikunle Amosun

A marshy terrain in Arepo community in Ogun State provides a favourable operational base for pipelines vandals

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Feb. 25, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

LACK of adequate security for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, pipelines in Arepo community, Ogun State, has been identified as the cause of the incessant vandalisation going on in the area. The NNPC, security agencies and Ogun state government have made some efforts to protect the pipelines but the attack seemed unabated. The pipelines have exploded three times this year with people losing their lives. The security agents said they have arrested some people in connection with the vandalisation, but their efforts are not enough to stop the vandalisation of the pipelines.

Realnews investigations have revealed that the vandals always operate at night when everybody has gone to sleep. They move in with their canoes loaded with several 50-litre empty kegs to scoop fuel from a vandalised point of the pipeline. After their operation, about 200 kegs full of petrol are tied together and ferried to the shore in an outboard canoe-engine. There is usually backup canoe with heavily armed men to provide security. Often, the police and other security personnel detailed to guard and protect the pipelines confront them. Most of the time, however, the vandals overpower these security men because of the superiority of their firepower and the mastery of the terrain.

People scooping from Pipeline
People scooping from Pipeline

An elder in the community, who wishes anonymity, said the government should come to their aid in providing adequate security to police the pipelines. He lamented that the efforts of the security agents are not enough to stop the activities of the vandals. “I am scared even to talk to you because I live in this area. These boys have taken over the area and they operate with impunity. As soon as security operatives get wind of their activities, they disappear into the creeks to hide. They can swim very well and that is why you hardly hear of the main vandals being arrested. It’s their career. The pipelines have turned into a curse for the neighbouring communities. We are talking about Boko Haram but these vandals are also terrorists and must be stopped,” he said.

An official of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, in the area, said lack of effective security is the cause of the steady vandalisation in Arepo, but the agency, according to him, is ready to fight the vandals. He said with the construction of an NSCDC operational base in the creek, the corps would return sanity to the area.

Ibikunle Amosun, governor of Ogun State, has blamed the NNPC for the vandalism going on in the state, saying the corporation was insensitive to the vandalisation. He wondered why a big corporation like the NNPC could not afford to mobilise its monitoring team to check the activities of the vandals.

“I have to say it here, and I’m saying it with all sense of responsibility that the NNPC by its inaction, is aiding and abetting the vandals. Indeed, I want to believe that they are part of this pipelines vandalisation with their inaction. I will write to the appropriate authority again, like I have been doing before. This is not good for us as a nation. Every time, they will say that vandals have done this and that, what has the NNPC done? Some people will be in Abuja blowing big grammar,” he said.

Apart from loss of lives to pipelines explosions, disruption of petrol supply and the attendant fuel crisis, the NNPC recently disclosed that between 2009 and December 2012, it lost about N165 billion to vandalism. It also lost three engineers sent to assess and repair the facility last September.

Some of the suspected vandals in the Arepo pipelines explosion are now in court. On February 5, a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, denied bail to some alleged vandals of petroleum pipelines at Arepo. The six persons were accused of pipelines vandalism and killing of NNPC engineers.

The System 2B which is the most active pipeline network in the country, supplies petroleum products from Atlas Cove Depot in Lagos to the NNPC depots in Ejigbo Lagos; Mosimi in Ogun State; Ore in Ondo State; Ibadan in Oyo State and Ilorin in Kwara State.

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