Fourteen suspected pipeline vandals arrested by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abia Command, are currently facing prosecution, the State Commander, Mr Benito Eze, has said.
Eze said on Saturday in Umuahia at a news briefing that four additional suspects arrested would also face prosecution with the 14 others as soon as investigations were concluded on their activities.
He gave names of the four suspects as Peter Ugochukwu, 28, Uzoma Anyim, 48, Winner Onwuegbu, 28, and Udoka Nwokorie, 27.
Eze expressed worry on the increase of pipeline vandalism in the area, since the Port Harcourt Refinery resumed pumping of petroleum products to Aba and Enugu depots.
“Between the second week of August to date, no fewer than 18 suspected vandals have been arrested by this command along Osisioma area,“ he said.
Eze said that the suspects usually perforated the pipelines where they fix nuzzles with which they siphon the products into containers.
He said that more than six trucks and different sizes of jerry cans, eight cars and buses, were confiscated during the period.
He warned oil marketers in the state against patronising pipeline vandals, saying that the command was still on the trail of those that bought products from suspected vandals.
He attributed the act of pipeline vandalism to greed among the youths, warning that anybody caught would be made to face the full weight of the law.
Eze gave the assurance that the command under his watch would not compromise in the discharge of its legitimate core mandate.
One of the four suspects, Nwokorie, a native of Umudiawa-Ofeiyi-Ohuhu in Umuahia South Local Government Area, told newsmen that he was arrested when he came home to see his ailing parents.
Nwokorie, who claimed to be a student of Ebonyi State University, said that he was a victim and not a vandal.
He said that he was arrested during a raid of his area by men of the NSCDC.
According to him, the two 50-litre jerry cans of petroleum products found in his house by the security men were purchased from people, who scooped the product from burst pipeline in the area.
He said that a pipeline that passed through the community got burst and spilled the petroleum product on the Imo River and its bank.
“Some youths, who saw the development as an opportunity, besieged the river to scoop the product for sale, he said.