The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps in Abia on Saturday said 33 suspected pipeline vandals and oil bunkerers were facing prosecution at the Federal High Court in Umuahia.
Dr Benito Eze, the NSCDC Commander in Abia, said this while presenting two suspected oil bunkerers before newsmen at the command’s headquarters in Umuahia.
He added that the suspects, Charles Nwachukwu (45) and Ayo Banjo (32), were arrested on Friday at the Aba end of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, following a tip off.
He noted that they were arrested while conveying blue gas in a 2000-capacity MAN Diesel truck with Reg. No. Plateau: LGT 458 XA.
The commander further said that the command secured eight convictions from June 2015 to date and the convicts were presently serving various jail terms in different prisons in the state.
Eze said that the command was enjoying robust collaboration with the judiciary and hoped that the pending cases would soon be cleared.
He added that “we do not have any challenge with prosecution because the judiciary is collaborating with us to ensure that our cases did not suffer undue delay.”
He restated the commitment of the command toward reducing the rate of pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering in Abia and warned those who engaged in the crime to stop it.
“We are committed to accomplish our core mandate of protecting pipelines and government infrastructure.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to apprehend and bring suspects to book.”
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, one of the suspects, Nwachukwu, who was the driver of the truck, admitted committing the alleged offence.
He said that he was paid N30,000 by one Michael Chukwu, who owned the truck, to transport the consignment from Port Harcourt to Owerri.
He added that although he knew it was an illegal business, he was compelled to accept the job because of the harsh economic condition in the country.
He absolved Banjo, who is an automobile mechanic, of complicity in the alleged crime.
He said that he invited Banjo from Owerri to come and fix the truck, when it broke down on the expressway, while on his way back.
Banjo said he joined the truck after fixing it before they were arrested on their way back to Owerri, adding that the truck conductor escaped arrest.
Meanwhile, the commander said that the suspects would be charged to court at the end of the ongoing investigation.