Those who are wondering why petroleum pipeline vandals in Ikorodu and Arepo areas of Lagos are somewhat elusive need not be bemused, as their collaborators have exposed the cause of their invincibility.
It has been revealed that the vandals use charms that frustrate their arrest, especially once they are in the waters. According to a landlord, who was recently arrested for conniving with pipeline vandals in their illegal activities of stealing fuel, those who engage in the business fortify themselves spiritually and worship sea god. Razaq Nofiu, a bricklayer, who was arrested by the police, told Saturday Sun: “Most of them are Ijaw boys and they worship the god of the sea.
This is why it is very difficult to arrest them while they are in the waters. As soon as they enter the water, they are safe from any attack whatsoever.” Nofiu’s revelation came on the heels of the discovery of jetties operated by pipeline vandals in Kadoku area of Konu, in Ikorodu Local Government Area of Lagos.
These jetties are located behind several bungalows close to the riverside. According to Assistant Commissioner of Police, Friday Ibadin, who is in charge of the Task force against pipeline vandilsation, his men had a breakthrough when they got information on what happened behind the bungalows. He revealed that four suspects were arrested. He said: “Those arrested were Bayo Nofu, Ogunletti Ofolaho, Ahmed Basheru and Razaq Nofiu.
The suspects led the police to their houses close to the creeks, which turned out to be routes through which they convey siphoned petroleum product from Arepo. For some time, we have been wondering how these vandals managed to beat our various points. It was those suspects that later took us to their home and unmasked the route behind their houses.” Saturday Sun gathered that the vandals created a water channel from the back of the bungalows to the creek, from where they sail to Arepo during their illegal operation.
To mask the water channel, they create an artificial forest using palm fronts. Inside the bush, there’s shrine where vandals perform rituals and prepare themselves spiritually. Speaking on his involvement with pipeline vandals, Nofiu said: “I am a bricklayer. When I became a man, my father showed my brother and I a portion of land at Kadoku area of Konu. He told us to build our homes there. Unfortunately, vandals discovered that it is close to the water and can be used as a path that links to Elekpete, close to Arepo, where they vandalise NNPC pipelines.
“They threatened to kill me and my entire family if I do not allow them to make use of my backyard. Instead of losing out completely, I agreed to their terms and conditions.” On what those terms were, Razaq said: “They guaranteed my security, which is the most important part of the condition. In addition to that, I am entitled to five per cent of every product that comes through my jetty. I have no choice but to accept their term, since that is the only condition I could survive.”
On why he did not report to Police, he said: “These men, who have a formidable union, are growing in their numbers every day, and they are heavily armed. I do not want to be a fugitive in my father’s land. The people they are looking for are right inside the creeks and as soon as they get information that the police had left, they will return to land.” Another suspect, Ogunletti Ofolaho, said that he bought the land for other purposes until vandals gave him ideas. Said Ofolaho: “Initially, I bought the land close to the water to enable me to dredge sand. It was later that a group of boys visited.
They sold the idea to me and I had no choice but to agree with them. The truth is that if you live in Konu and you are not a vandal, you will be a suspect. They would assume that you have been giving information to the police. “I am entitled to some percentage of their loot. I do not join them because it is important that when security men visit my house, they will assume that I am just a bricklayer. I only make use of whatever I get from them to invest in my bricklaying business.”
Another suspect, Ahmed Basheru, claimed that he is an informant of the police and was surprised that the others would point at him as a suspect. He said: I have been a friend of the police because when I was into haulage business, they used to provide escort to take me home whenever I got to Ikorodu very late. I decided to help the police by providing them with information that would help them stop the activities of these vandals.
They have a union and no matter the number of vandals that get burnt, their leader keeps recruiting them. If you want to be useful in life, leave Konu because almost everyone here lives on pipeline vandalisation. “Ever since the task force took over the area, they have been complaining bitterly that poverty is gradually setting in. I overheard that they would storm the area in their numbers heavily armed. They have threatened me severally; so I am not surprised that they pointed at me as a vandal.”