By Laleye Dipo in Minna
Operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Niger State Command on Wednesday arrested 16 persons in connection with alleged diversion of petrol.
Eight trucks containing over 497,000 litres of petrol were also seized by the operatives.
Among those arrested were the drivers whose names were given as Fatai Sulaiman, Ajibade Wasiu, Abbdulganiyu Abdulkhadir, Sani Ibrahim, Salihu Musa, Abdulganiyu Abdullahi Fatai Atanda and Rilwanu Sanusi.
The state Commandant of the NSCDC, Mr Philip Ayuba, paraded the suspects before journalists on Wednesday evening during which he said the suspects intended to smuggle the product to Benin Republic.
Ayuba said the suspects were all arrested at Mokwa town, adding that from the waybills in possession of the suspects, they had passed the spot where they were supposed to have discharged the product which went to confirm that they wanted to smuggle the product.
The commandant said the arrests were made following a tip-off by concerned Nigerians who had followed the activities of the smugglers for some time.
While appreciating the role played by patriotic Nigerians, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Ayuba said that they all cooperated with the organisation to facilitate the arrest of the suspects.
Ayuba said the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Alhaji Mohammed Abdullahi Gana, had directed that the suspects and the vehicles with their contents be handed over to the NNPC.
He warned against all forms of smuggling, saying it was an act of economic sabotage which carried stiff penalties.
One of the suspects, Rilwan Sanusi from Oyo State, in an interview, said they were “resting” at Mokwa when they were arrested.
Sanusi however could not explain why they passed where they were supposed to have discharged their product.