NNPC CSO in trouble over pipeline vandalization, goes underground
Operatives attached to the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Pipeline vandalization are on the trail of the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mosimi Depot (names withheld) (Akinolu A are his real names) who was alleged to have conspired with some suspected private security men to divert recovered products from vandals.
The suspects, Balogun Taiwo, Lukman Adedigba and Dayo Olanipekun alleged that they are on the payroll of the CSO who contracted them several months ago.
On their arrest, the officer in-charge of the task force, CSP Valentine Olumese said that trouble started on November 24, 2015 when the police received a distress call that vandals were operating at Ilashe area of Ogun state. “As soon as policemen got there, the vandals abandoned their jerrycans of fuel and took to their heels. The vandals, however, reinforced and attacked the policemen. It took the timely intervention of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ogijo in the state to overcome them and arrest three, while the others fled.
“In the course of interrogation, the suspects alleged that they were hired by the CSO, Mosimi depot. Quite aware that he is a civil servant, we wrote to NNPC to release him to us and they did not comply. We took the next step, which was to secure a warrant of arrest from the court.
“ We visited the Mosimi depot where three locally made guns were recovered in his office while another one was recovered from the vandals who alleged that it was given to them by the CSO who is currently on the run.” According to Olumese, the day he and his men visited the depot to pick up the running CSO, NNPC staff on duty resisted them. The police officer said, instead of letting him access into the premises, the staff triggered off fire-alarm, which prompted other workers on duty to assembled and subsequently barricaded all entry, insisting that the CSO should not be taken away.
“To avoid a bloody situation,” he said, “the detectives left the depot without the CSO or the rifles that were found in his office. Till date, he has refused to come out rather, he sent some people to lobby so that the matter would be settled privately.” But, he added, the fugitive NNPC officer must be fished out to face the due process of the law.
“It is high time we sanitized the department of those promoting big-time pipeline vandalism. We stay awake all night guarding the various pipelines, only for people who are expected to be on the same page with us on the fight against oil theft, to the ones sabotaging our efforts. We will continue searching for him till he is found,” Olumese promised.
The alleged confession that indicted him
At the police station, one of the suspects, Taiwo who hails from Sango Otta in Ogun State, insisted that he is not a vandal but was employed by the CSO to guard NNPC pipelines. “On November 23, 2015, our leader, Semiu, called us to move out, that CSO just informed him that vandals were operating. He told us to go to Mosimi depot and meet the CSO. I alerted Lukman and Dayo (his colleagues) and we took a bike to meet Semiu who took us to meet CSO. At the NNPC depot, the security men at the gate asked what we were there for, we told them the CSO sent for us.
“Later the CSO came and instructed his colleagues to give Semiu keys to their patrol vehicle. We left ourokada in the premises and went in search of the vandals we were told were operating that night. On the way at Ilara road, we saw two vehicles and two okada, approaching. Semiu thought they were vandals and we accosted them. The occupants of the vehicles who we were later told are policemen fled and abandoned their vehicles. Semiu instructed us to remain there till the morning and called the CSO on phone to tell him what happened. As we were there, we saw another vehicle that was confirmed to belong to suspected vandals. We overpowered them and they abandoned their vehicles and fled. We discovered they had loaded their vehicles and were leaving the creeks, with several jerry cans loaded with fuel. We were heading to deliver the recovered product and vehicle to the CSO when we saw IGP monitoring men in a serious argument with the CSO.
“They accused us of shooting at policemen who were on patrol. The truth is that we did not know that they were policemen; we simply opened fire at them when Semiu suspected that they were vandals. All efforts to explain our position to them failed as they arrested us.”
When queried why the CSO had not come to confirm their claim, Taiwo said he couldn’t understand why. “I am surprised that the CSO will leave us in detention for so long. I do not know why he is on the run. He had been paying us for our job, which is to recover stolen products and them hand over to him. Sometimes, he would give us one or two gallons for our personal use. We normally hand over everything to him in the hope that he would return it to NNPC. If he did not, it is none of our business. Let him come and tell the truth so that police will not charge us to court as vandals. Running means that he is guilty and we are suspects too. We are not vandals,” Taiwo said.
We will produce him-NNPC
When Saturday Sun asked Deputy Manager of Public Affairs Department of the corporation, Nasir Imodagbe, for official statement on the matter, he said he was not aware of it and moreover, that he was on vacation. However, he added that he would investigate it as soon as he returned.
A senior staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that efforts were on to find an amicable solution to the problem. “It is quite unfortunate and we at the NNPC, Mosimi, are law-abiding citizens. We do not condone any act that will sabotage the efforts of government in keeping our pipelines safe. I am not saying that it is not possible that he is guilty as charged, but proper investigation will be done and if found culpable will face the wrath of the law,” he said.
A junior staffer in Mosimi, who gave his name as Tunde, alleged that it was one of the major reasons one of the former CSOs was unceremoniously removed. The CSO, fair in complexion, became notorious in the act. What he normally does was to alert the police that vandals were operating at a particular location. The policemen would promptly leave their post and head towards the direction that was stated in the alert message.
“Meanwhile, truck will be stationed in another part of the bush where another set of vandals will be operating. If you later call to find out, you will be told that the vandals escaped or that it was a false alarm. Ifoga is not guilty, why should he be running? Those who protected him that day are also part of their illicit activities that was why I respectfully sat in my office that day. The fact is that the activity of vandals is still booming because the supposed CSOs and other security operatives, including the police, are also guilty of the same crime. They have an agreement, it is only when those agreements are not met that there is a clash. The vandals in the creeks were bitter that these designated security operatives, after collecting so much money from them, did not allow them to function with ease. It’s unfortunate and there is need to sanitize the department in NNPC,” Tunde stated.
Recently, NNPC engaged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) to unmask the sponsors of pipeline vandalism in the country.
At the scene of a pipeline vandalism at Ajebo village in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, the Managing Director of Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC, Mrs. Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, reportedly said that both the EFCC and DSS would assist the corporation in tracking down the godfathers of vandals and the filling stations that receive fuel stolen from vandalised pipelines.