Niger state Police Command disclosed that it has arrested some suspected petroleum products pipeline vandals who use heavy duty petrol tankers to siphon fuel from vandalised pipelines in parts of the state in the past one month.
Commissioner of Police , Niger state Police Command, Mrs. Desire Nsirim, stated this in a press statement made available to newsmen in Minna over the weekend, adding that the Command is now considering total blockade of the routes being used by the hoodlums.
The statement said "with very strong barriers, in addition with the setting up of a strong Police Anti-vandalization team to keep watch on the affected areas of illegal operations of the vandals with a view to reducing the problems to the barest minimum.
“We are thinking that it will be ideal to block some of these areas with very strong barriers. But for now or precisely from January this year we have had two cases that my men had arrested some of these trucks and we have already charged the suspects to Court. And in the cases where these vandals are armed, we have also demonstrated that we are also equal to the task because these policemen we are going to put on these nipping points are going to be bodily armed in order to be able to face them squarely” the release stated.
The release further stated that in addition to the nipping points around the NNPC’s pipelines, that the Command has also discovered that there were some areas that were also rampant with the petroleum products black marketers in the state, highlighting that these areas were allegedly serving as the ready markets for these stolen petroleum products.
“Therefore, I formed a very vibrant Police team to go out and raid them because of the realization that one of the sources of peace in Niger state is raids and we have found out that for us to get peace in respect of this pipeline vandals is to make sure that we raid them. We have identified those areas where these black marketers are and this special police squad would raid them” said Nsirim.
The release stated that in addition to raiding the hide outs of the suspected oil thieves, that the Command is however being careful that whenever the suspects were arrested that some truck owners were in the habits of coming forward and claimed that the vehicles being used by the vandals to siphon fuel belonged to them and that they gave the vehicles to the suspected criminals for legitimate business.
The COMPOL however described pipeline vandalization as a very serious criminal offence that if anyone is caught in the act that both the vehicles being used to siphon fuel from burst pipelines and the owners of the vehicles including the contents on board the trucks would be taken to court and for prosecution hence forth.
The CP said that for this reason that she will no longer release any vehicle that was found with any vandalized petroleum products, just as she warned Nigerlites that though that they have had cordial working relationship with the state Police Command, adding that she will not condone any acts of criminality.
"In fact, I would not want anybody to fall into temptation of going to vandalize petroleum products because the command is very ready to face this ugly situation and bring it to its barest minimum, just as we did in the cases of armed robbery incidents in the state.
She therefore appealed to well meaning and patriotic citizens residents in the state to call their wards and their relations to order, as the Command will not look back nor even listen to any pleads from anybody if they were caught conniving with criminals to perpetuate crimes in the state.
Accordingly she said, “this is an opportunity for them to change and opportunity for them that it is high time this country got rid of all these crimes that could be prevented”.