Operatives of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT) have uncovered two wells at Ejigbo area of Lagos State, which are being used to siphon and sell petroleum products from a pipeline belonging to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Police sources disclosed that two suspects, identified as Victoria Ogunsomi and Shafe Abayomi, owners of the wells located on No. 2 and 4, Surprise Avenue, Ejigbo, Lagos, were arrested when operatives of the IRT, headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Abba Kyari, got wind of their activities.
It was discovered by a team of operatives that Ogunsomi and Abayomi dug 75-foot wells in their compound, which is located few meters away from the NNPC pipeline, where they connected pipes with submersible pumps into the well to link the pipeline.
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Sources explained that whenever the NNPC is transporting its products along the pipeline, Ogunsomi and Abayomi, whose buildings are located side by side, would put on their pumping machines and syphon the products into jerry cans and tanker trucks.
It was learnt that the suspects, who were alleged to have made millions of naira from the illicit business, ran into trouble when IRT operatives got wind of their activities through intelligence from some residents of the area.
The residents said they were scared of the illicit activities that could lead to fire outbreaks, after the March 15 Abule-Ado explosion. A police source said: “We got calls from a resident in the area who alerted us about the activities of Mrs Victoria and Mr Abayomi, who are residents of Surprise Avenue, alleged to have been siphoning petroleum products from NNPC pipelines located close to their area. The source told us that these persons have wells, which have underground pipes connected to the NNPC pipeline in the area.
“The source told us that whenever the NNPC is transporting its products along that pipeline, their products usually surge into those wells and they are swiftly pumped into tanker trucks by owners of the wells. The source told us that the big trucks normally come by night to carry the products. When we acted on the information, we stormed the buildings and found the wells with pipes and pumps in it and the stench of fuel was everywhere.
“At Mrs Victoria’s apartment, we found jerry cans filled with petroleum products, but Mr Abayomi smartly dismantled the pipes and pumping machine in his own well before we arrived at his compound. We are currently working on tracing and apprehending persons who have been buying these stolen products from them,” he stated.
The suspects, 58-year-old Victoria Ogunsomi and Shafe Abyomi, said they are not pipeline vandals, but that they have regularly scooped petroleum products from the ruptured NNPC pipelines located close to their house.
They added that the petroleum products flow into their wells and they sell them to people in their neighborhood. According to Ogunsomi, “I am from Okitupupa area of Ondo State. I have three children, but I am a widow. My late husband bought the land where we built our house in 1984 and we dug that well in 1999. We were drinking water, but we later discovered that there was petrol in it.
“We contacted and alerted our landlord association about it and we all agreed that we will go to the police station and the local government secretariat but they advised us to go to NNPC. The NNPC sent two delegates to know what was happening. The delegates came and took sample of the water. After that, they didn’t come again.
“I was arrested before by SARS operatives in 2016, because I sold just three jerry cans of this petrol to someone. The police released me and warned me never to go close to the well again. I am sorry that I went back to it again and I have been arrested,” she lamented.