By George Odok, NAN
The Cross River Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) says it had arrested one suspect for an alleged attempt to vandalize a pipeline.
Mr. Samuel Fadeyi, State Commandant of the corps, made this known on Monday in Calabar, while briefing newsmen on the activities of the corps.
Fadeyi disclosed that the suspect was arrested on August 26, 2022, in connection with an attempt to vandalize a pipeline of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the tank farm in Calabar.
He also disclosed that the suspect was the security personnel of the moribund tank farm, owned by Mettle Energy and Gas, where the pipeline was connected to.
He explained that the suspect was arrested by his men on surveillance patrol alongside the maintenance unit of Latee Jay company, a private outfit involved in the monitoring of pipelines in the state.
According to him, during the surveillance, they noticed a small collapse hole around the area, suggesting that there was a pit in between.
“NSCDC officials dug the hole and they discovered that it was a tunnel, leading from the moribund tank farm, Mettle Energy and Gas, into the pipeline.
“Further investigation showed that they had some equipment which they were going to use to connect to the pipeline, breach it and then siphon petroleum products.
“This whole digging took place underground, such that one will not know what was going on. The tunnel leads to the tank farm at one end and the other leads to the pipeline.
“We have commenced an investigation, and the suspect is helping to give us credible information on those behind this illegal act.”
The commandant noted that the act was carried out by a cartel, assuring that the corps would ensure that those at large were also arrested.
He disclosed that the owners of the tank farm must have permitted the illegal act, adding that the digging of the pit to breach the NNPC pipeline was done within a month.
He said that the distance of the tunnel to the NNPC pipeline was about 100 meters, adding that the suspect had already finished the digging and was waiting to connect their pipe to the NNPC pipeline.
“Oil theft has been a major problem. It has dominated the major discourse in the country right now because of the effect on the nation’s economy.
“Last week, the Commandant General of NSCDC, Dr. Abubakar Audi, read a riot act to commands in the Niger Delta, particularly on the need to strengthen the anti-vandal team.
“That message was passed unto my men and you can see the result. I can assure you that the perpetrators of this act won’t be spared,” he added.
The suspect, while speaking to newsmen, said he was promised large sums of money by those who involved him in the illegal act.
According to him, “two men came into my office and said they wanted to help me make some money. They asked me to allow them to dig the pipeline and I did.
“They asked me not to panic that I was going to make a huge amount of money. They gave me N500 on the first day they came.
“They went and brought people from Port Harcourt who dug this tunnel day and night. They promised that when they want to lay the pipes, they will give me a huge amount of money”.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that exhibits recovered from the suspects included a shovel, connecting pipes, buckets, and knives.