The Abia State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has arrested three suspects, who allegedly specialised in siphoning petroleum products with valves hooked to pipelines.
The state Commandant, NSCDC, Mr Nnamdi Nwannukwu, said this in Umuahia on Thursday while briefing newsmen on the activities of the command to curtail the nefarious activities of vandals in the state.
Nwannukwu said the suspects, Ikechi Ngozi, Chukwudinma Allen and Nwokoro Nwapem, were caught in the act on September 3.
“The suspects were caught in the act of fixing valves on a petroleum pipeline for the purpose of siphoning a petroleum product illegally and loading it in tanks and drums in standby buses,” he stated.
He accused the suspects of being behind the destruction of product pipelines between Km 74.5 and Km 75.5 at Amekpu in the Isialangwa North Local Government Area of the state.
Nwannukwu said the suspects confessed to have fixed the valves with the help of a technician, one Ogbuagu, who is at large.
“These suspects have committed a lot of economic sabotage against our nation through their attacks on oil pipelines, which are critical infrastructure to our nation,” he stated.
The commandant said the command also arrested three other suspects for causing malicious and collateral damage to a broken down truck conveying a petroleum product and converting the product.
“The suspects were arrested for their alleged involvement in criminal conspiracy and fraudulent misrepresentation of facts by some supposedly fake staff of the state Ministry of the Environment,” he added.
Nwannukwu said the suspects illegally towed the truck and stole the product, disassembled the truck and sold it in parts to scrap dealers at the Alaoji Old Parts Market, near Aba.
“The suspects are also being investigated for receiving stolen property at the scene of the crime at the Imo Gate on the Enugu-Port Hacourt Expressway,” he added.
Nwannukwu said the command had spread its dragnet in search of other members of the syndicate, who allegedly had fake identify cards and emblems of the ministry in their possession when the NSCDC officials accosted them.
The commandant charged the state government to scrutinise the activities of scrap buyers in the state.
“It is a syndicate that goes about dismembering vehicles that have accidents and faulty vehicles and property of innocent road users that need to be fixed, take them to unknown destinations, tear them into pieces and sell them off as scraps,” he added.
He said that the command would arraign the six suspects at the end of its ongoing investigations.
The wife of one of the suspects, Amarachi Ugochukwu, was said to have been arrested at her shop, which housed some of the scraps.
In an interview with newsmen, Ugochukwu, 33, claimed that her husband was a dog meat seller and that she had no knowledge of the alleged crime.
She stated that she did not know her husband’s whereabouts, but admitted that they had been communicating via telephone since she was arrested.