The manager of a filling station in the Seme area of Lagos, Ashamu Mauhtin, has been arrested along with 16 other suspects by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for illegal oil bunkering.
The suspects were apprehended along the waterways in the Ikorodu and Badagry areas of the state between April and June 24 with about 20,000 litres of petrol stored in 790 jerry cans.
It was also gathered that two of the speedboats that the suspects reportedly used to transport the product were recovered.
Some of the suspects were 27-year-old Mauhtin, Segun Asogbon, Adewuloye Oyewoga, Godwin Ogbolo, and Ola Owobo.
While the manager, Asogbon and Oyewoga, denied committing the crime, Ogbolo and Owobo owned up to it.
Mauhtin said he was selling fuel to fishermen, who used boats for fishing, when he was arrested.
He said: “I am the manager, Dabkik Filling Station in Badagry. We are three selling fuel here. Fishermen usually bring kegs to buy fuel and we sell at the normal N87. I was selling to some customers when the officers arrested us.”
Thirty-year-old Oyewoga, a security guard employed by the Oodua People’s Congress, who was arrested around Atlasco in Ikorodu, said, “I was one of those employed by the OPC to monitor pipelines. I was going home when I was arrested. I am not a vandal.”
Asogbon, a boat operator, said he wanted to cater for his family of four and sponsor the education of his siblings.
The Lagos State Commandant of the NSCDC, Gabriel Abaafi, said apart from the suspects, two others arrested in May have been charged to court. “Sometime last month, the Nigerian Navy handed over two suspects caught on the high sea to us and they are now in courts. At the Ikorodu area, four suspects were apprehended with petrol. At the Badagry area, we intercepted about 700 (25 litres each) kegs from five suspects. 90 kegs of stolen fuel were intercepted,” he said.
By Pita Ochai