The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Major General Enobong Udoh, yesterday read the riot act to pipeline vandals and cultists, warning that the military would not deal kindly with anyone caught on the wrong side of the law.
The GOC said he would not relent in smashing cultists, vandals and impostors within Lagos and Ogun states, unless they desist from tampering with petroleum product pipelines and disturbing the peace of the states.
The statement from the 81 Division’s spokesman came in the wake of the parade of 19 pipeline vandals, 12 impostors and 11 cultists, who were arrested by troops of the 174 battalion of the Nigerian Army in the Ikorodu area of Lagos.
The vandals, Daily Sun learnt, were arrested in possession of 28,000 litres of premium motor spirit, allegedly stolen from a broken pipeline in the Magboro area of Ogun State, loaded in over 30 vehicles that were impounded by the army.
The vehicles were set to leave with the products when the soldiers surrounded the area and arrested the culprits. While parading the suspects before the media, Udoh said information leading to the arrest of the vandals came from a well-meaning Nigerian and the troops, in conjunction with other security agencies, swooped on the vandals.
The statement from the spokesman for the 81 Division, Lt. Col. Olaolu Daudu, gave details of the activities of the vandals, explaining that they had broken the pipeline in the wee hours of the night, filled the jerry cans with PMS preparatory for the market, before they were arrested. He said, on sighting the soldiers, the vandals opened fire and on the troops but were overwhelmed by the superior firepower of the army.
It was gathered that when the exchange of gunfire died down, some of the vandals had fled while the soldiers rounded up 19 suspects; during a cordon-and-search operation in the vicinity, a total of 24 vehicles, comprising three trailers, nine buses, eight wagons, a pickup, three salon cars and four motorbikes abandoned by some of the vandals were impounded.
Similarly, it was gathered that a special team of Operation Checkmate, an 81 Division operation launched to rid the streets of Lagos of marauding soldiers and impostors, arrested 12 persons, among them three dismissed soldiers using the uniform of the Nigerian Army to extort money from unsuspecting citizens.
The GOC said the service would not tolerate any act capable of tarnishing the image of the army within the division. He called on well-meaning residents to expose the activities of fake soldiers, who go about harassing innocent members of the public.
Also, the GOC said that on May 8, 2018, troops of the 174 Battalion received report of a cult-related clash at Reshe in Ikorodu Central Area. On intervention, he noted that seven suspected cultists, most of whom were members of Eiye confraternity, were arrested.