The Ondo State Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps has said it has found an illegal surface Automated Gas Oil (AGO) depot in Ore, Odigbo LGA of the state, where thousands of litres of the product are syphoned by vandals.
The corps said it impounded about 35,000 litres of adulterated AGO, also known as diesel, in its latest operation in the town.
Speaking on how the criminals engage in the illicit acts, the state commandant, Edenabu Eweka, while speaking to journalists on Monday in Ore, said the breakthrough was made possible through sustained and credible intelligence.
He said the criminal elements and those he described as economic saboteurs used the arena as a storage base after engaging in oil pipeline vandalism on the high sea and the creeks in the Niger Delta region.
He said after the oil theft, they would transport the illegally refined products through badges and boats to the coastal areas of Ondo State such as Agadagba, Ijaw, Ido Osun and the likes.
“Consequently, these unscrupulous elements would defiantly proceed by conveying the products using buses, jeeps and cars to where it would finally be stored in the surface tanks located in Ore Town,” said Mr Eweka.
“Investigation further revealed that Ore Town in Ondo State is fast becoming the Headquarters of AGO illegal Surface Depot in the Southwest; most tankers do load adulterated AGO via Surface Tanks and thus distribute for sales across Nigeria.”
He said when officials of the corps invaded the area where the product was being distributed, the criminals fled the scene on sighting the security operatives.
Mr Eweka noted that their escape was made possible because they were well-acquainted with the terrain.
Some of the exhibits recovered from the scene include a Toyota Sequoia Jeep, a Toyota Camry Car, One Pumping Machine, two (2) Industrial Hose Pipes, 70 Kegs of 30 litres AGO and 35,000 litres of suspected adulterated Automated Gas Oil (AGO).
Nearly two weeks ago, the command arrested six persons involved in syphoning about 45,000 litres of diesel in Akure.
They were apprehended on March 26 around 5 p.m. alongside a truck with Registration number Edo BEN 643 XC conveying 45,000 litres of suspected adulterated AGO.
According to the suspects, the tanker was said to have taken off from Oghara Depot in Delta State en route Benin city to Akure, Ondo State.
Consequently, on March 27, the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base, Igbokoda, handed over to the NSCDC Ondo Command two suspects – Moses Akinnehin (25) and Komiyo Jeje (29) – who were arrested alongside two wooden boats conveying 34 drums of suspected illegally refined adulterated AGO.
According to Mr Eweka, during a routine patrol on March 28 around 5:20 p.m., his officials apprehended a truck with registration number: Lagos, EPE 196 XR, conveying suspected adulterated AGO worth 33,000 litres. He said during a hot pursuit, the suspects escaped and left the truck.
The NSCDC is statutorily empowered to arrest with or without a warrant, investigate and prosecute in the law court person or group of persons found to have committed any criminal acts leading to economic sabotage and vandalism, as well as illegal and unauthorised dealings in petroleum products amongst others.
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