The Lagos State Government on Friday announced the lockup of 12 houses in Abeokuta and Ibadan Streets in Ilasamaja area of the state over the discovery of shallow oil wells built by landlords to steal diesel from pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The State’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, disclosed this while briefing newsmen at the Lagos House, Ikeja.
Ayorinde said the oil wells were built for the purpose of illegally scooping diesel and selling same to members of the public.
He said some of the affected landlords built pumping machine and boreholes to perpetrate the crime on a large scale.
Ayorinde said the step to shut the wells and cordon off the area was taken by government to forestall loss of lives and property as a result of the looming danger.
The Lagos info boss said a combined team from the police command, the Ministry of Environment, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, Lagos State Fire Service and Sole Administrator of Isolo Local Council Development Area carried out a thorough inspection of the entire area and discovered nothing less than 12 of the illegal oil wells.
He said that initial investigation revealed that a few of the landlords where the wells were located were taking advantage of the situation by commercialising the dangerous act.
He said that samples of the substance had been taken for immediate investigation in order to determine the true nature of the substance as well as the root cause of this usually occurrence.
He said the State Government was working with the NNPC for further investigation.
Ayorinde said that for the safety of residents, especially on Abeokuta and Ibadan Streets, the affected well had been sealed off.
He said that the government would also work with those who were likely to be displaced as a result of the development.
“The Lagos State Government wishes to use this opportunity to remind Lagosians and the residents of these areas in particular, to assist the police with useful information.
“We also urge them to always volunteer information before any potentially dangerous situation degenerates to public hazard,” he said.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, confirmed the arrest of three suspects in the operation, adding that a fire tanker had 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.
He said that 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 10 more wells were discovered in other houses in Abeokuta and Ibadan streets,” Ayorinde said.