The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abia Command, has arrested 28 suspects in connection with pipeline vandalism and illegal bunkering from September to date in the state.
The Commandant, Mr Vincent Ogu, said this in his maiden news conference in Umuahia on Tuesday.
He said that 20 of the suspects were already being prosecuted.
Ogu said the remaining eight, including four that were arrested on Friday, were being investigated and would be arraigned at the end of the exercise.
He said the four suspects arrested on Friday, were arrested in a truck with, Reg. No. MGU7585A, at Ubakala Junction on Umuahia axis of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway enroute Enugu.
He said the truck was conveying petroleum product suspected to be diesel, concealed in 50 sack bags, each containing two nylon bags with 25 litres of the product.
According to him, the suspects loaded some bags of sawdust on the petroleum product as smokescreen to deceive operatives of the corps on patrol
The suspects were identified as John James, Nwile Chukwuma, Sunday Mangu and Nwoke Sunday.
The commandant said that “preliminary investigation’’ by the corps showed that they did not have the licence to deal in petroleum products.
He also said the product had no waybill or meter ticket, saying that the truck had no haulage permit to convey petroleum products.
The suspects admitted committing the crime out of ignorance and pleaded for leniency.
Meanwhile, the NSCDC boss pledged that the command under his watch would continue to deliver on its core mandate of protecting pipelines and government’s critical infrastructure in the state.
He, therefore, warned criminals to relocate out of Abia or be prepared to face the wrath of the law.
He said the command had deployed its operatives to strategic locations and flashpoints in the state to beef up security during the Yuletide celebrations.
“We know that crime is usually high during the Christmas. So, we are working in synergy with other sister-security agencies to ensure adequate security of lives and property of residents,” Ogu said. (NAN)