By Evelyn Usman
Ajao estate in Lagos can be described as one of the highbrow areas on the mainland, owing to its strategic location and nearness to the International airport. The relax ambience of most hotels in the area as well as the gigantic buildings is also another feature that gives the area its popularity among other areas around Isolo and its environs.
However, the area can be said to be sitting on a keg of gun powder ready to explode, except necessary actions are taken.
This is owing to activities of pipeline vandals at Richfield community in the estate, where pipeline which supplies Jet A1 aviation fuel to the international and local airports pass through.
By the way, Jet fuel is a type of aviation fuel designed for use in aircraft and it is powered by gas-turbine engines. It is colorless to straw-colored in appearance. Jet A1 fuel which is produced to a standardized international specification, is the most commonly used for commercial aviation.
However,investigation by Vanguard revealed that the siphoned product was then sold to unsuspecting Lagosians as fuel for their vehicles and kerosine for stoves. It is difficult to differentiate the product from premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol used for car because of its colourless appearance.
Activities of these vandals increased this yuletide season following the perennial fuel scarcity . Vanguard gathered that during this period, trucks were usually brought into the community at night, where it was loaded inside jerricans, for onward sale within and outside the area, including the south west region of the country.
Police swoop on the vandals
Acting on a tip off, teams of policemen led by the Area Commander ‘D’ Mushin, Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, Olasoji, accompanied by the Divisional Police Officer in-charge of Ajao estate division, Mr Abdul Adejoh and the Area ‘D ‘command’s Duty Officer, Superintendent of Police, SP, Timothy Falowo, a swooped on the vandals while they were siphoning the product from a broken pipe. On sighting the policemen, they took to their heels abandoning some jerricans filled with the siphoned product. They also left the leaking portion of the pipe open in their confused state.
In the process, six of them; four women and two men were arrested and some of those arrested were discovered to be residents of the area.
During the invasion, it was discovered that some vandals built shanties right on the access way of the pipe, apparently to ease the siphoning process. When a search was conducted round the apartment, some jerricans and other containers loaded with the Jet A1 product were recovered.
Although it was also discovered that the portion where the Jet A1 pipeline passed through was fenced round by the Landlord Association to prevent spread of fire in the event of any likely outbreak but the fence only served as a shield to these vandals who some times hid under the cover of darkness to perpetrate their sinister motive.
Also, inside the bush where the shady act was carried out, there were several jerricans and footpaths which lead to the expressway, through which the vandals escaped. The operation which began at about 1pm, lasted six hours.
When Vanguard visited the scene, some of the residents applauded the effort of the Police, adding that such illegality had been ongoing for long. According to one of the residents, Sheu Abubakar , “ I have been living in this area for over 10 years. I only became aware of vandals’ illegality last month.
When I approached one of the community leaders, he told me that they had to erect a high fence to secure the area where the aviation fuel passed through from residential area. I was also made to understand that these vandals came there at night to siphon the product.
This move by the Police is laudable but they should not just end there, there should be continuous surveillance around the area. The danger of their activities is that if they sell the product as kerosine , it could cause explosion. Some fire outbreaks witnessed in the country were caused by this product.”
Mother of three among suspects
Another resident who spoke on the condition of anonymity said : “One of those arrested was well known to me. She is a mother of three and has been into this illegal trade for long. We only got to know about her activities two months ago and when we questioned her, she said she usually sold a litre between N150 and N170 as kerosine.
But she said that she had never gone close to where the product was being siphoned. She said that the real vandals usually gave her some litres for free.”
Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, Superintendent of Police Chike Oti, who confirmed the arrest, gave identities of the suspects as : Ada Jesus Favour, John Eke , Ofem Jovita, Tony Andrew , Ikaite Godwin and Nnena Ekemezie.
Oti said : “Based on intelligence available to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Mr Imohimi Edgal, he directed the Area Commander ‘D’ and the DPO Ajao to launch an operation against the vandals at Richfield. Six persons were subsequently arrested during the raid with the recovery of some jerricans filled with the siphoned product.
The suspects were charged to court last Wednesday while officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,NNPC were contacted to seal the broken portion which they have done.”
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