The Nigerian Police on Friday shut at least twelve houses in Ilasamaja area of Lagos State after discovering illegal oil wells built by landlords to bunker diesel from pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Officials of the police, led by the Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni; Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA and others were at the scene on Friday evening and sealed off the houses while residents have fled to avoid arrest.
General Manager, LASEMA, Michael Akindele said the agency received a distress call via the 767 toll-free line on Friday about diesel theft around Ibadan and Abeokuta Street, Ilasamaja area of Lagos.
“Investigation by the Emergency Rescue Team, ERT of LASEMA at the scene of the incident revealed that over 10 houses were said to have diesel in their well,” Akindele said.
“Further probing into the incident revealed that it is a case of bunkering as eyewitness gave reports of trucks coming in at night to load diesel. However, the source of the diesel is still unknown. There was no loss of lives; the area has been assessed to be a site of potential disaster. There was swift and prompt action by the agency and its stakeholders.
According to Akindele, the affected area had been cordoned off, while occupants of the affected houses were asked to vacate immediately to avoid any disaster.
Investigation revealed that illegal oil bunkering usually take place in the area around 12 midnight. The illegal business is said to have been going on in the last two years.
State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde said the government discovered 12 shallow wells with the presence of diesel oil in them where diesel were being pumped out and sold to unsuspecting members of the public.
He said a combined team led by the Commissioner of Police, Owoseni visited the area and carried out thorough inspection and discovered the presence of 12 oil wells.
Ayorinde said samples of the oil had been taken for test to determine the nature of the substance, adding that for safety, the affected wells had been sealed off.
The commissioner disclosed that a few landlord had been taken advantage of the situation to sell diesel products to the public.
He said affected residents would be relocated by the government, while calling on residents to always give useful information to the government whenever such things occur.
Also speaking the Commissioner of Police confirmed the arrest of three suspects in the operation, adding that a fire tanker has been stationed in the event of any fire incident.
The men of the Lagos State Police Command in the area who were on routine patrol said they saw a woman around 12 midnight with keg of diesel and when an attempt was made for her to be accosted, she fled, a development which alerted the police of something fishy.
The police immediately pursued the woman and accosted her, after which she eventually took them to number 12, Abeokuta Street, off Ilasamaja, one of the houses housing the illegal oil wells.
Upon getting to the said house, those inside shut the door and prevented the police from gaining entrance.
The officers thereafter left the scene with the arrested woman, and they later came back disguising as potential buyers of diesel, while those inside opened the door.
It was at that point that the illegal oil well was discovered at the house, after which about ten more wells were discovered in other houses in the streets..