‘He does illicit business’
• NSCDC accuses ex-lawmaker of oil bunkering
• He insists there is no pipeline in Irele
THE Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), Ondo State Command, has debunked the allegations of brutality levelled against it last weekend against a former federal lawmaker, Albert Akintoye, who published in some national dailies (not The Guardian) that his vehicle was riddled with bullets and three of his men injured when coming back from a political meeting.
In a rejoinder made available to The Guardian by the Public Relations Officer of the Command, Kayode Balogun, it noted that the management deemed it very crucial to apprise the public of the true story of what actually transpired on August 20, 2015, accusing Akintoye of pre-empting his arrest.
“The attention of the management of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ondo State Command has been drawn to the story published by The Nation Newspaper and other newspapers online with the caption: “Ex-legislator attacked, three injured,” in which a former lawmaker representing Irele/Okitipupa Constituency, Mr. Akintoye Albert claimed to have narrowly escaped death at the weekend.
“In the publication, officers of the NSCDC in the Command allegedly shot his convoy, while three persons were said to have sustained injuries in the incident and two of the former legislator’s vehicles were allegedly riddled with bullets,” the petition partly read.
Balogun told The Guardian that the Arms Squad and Anti-vandal units were deployed to Akotogbo area of Irele Local Council to apprehend a barge conveying petroleum products suspected to have been acquired from vandalised NNPC pipelines and would arrive that night, based on intelligence reports.
He said the team arrived Okitipupa at about 11.10a.m. that day and while they were waiting at the Divisional Office to receive directives to move to Akotogbo, at about 1.00p.m., the team noticed a white Hilux van, without a number plate, parked directly opposite the hideout of their men, taking suspicious tabs on the team.
According to one of the NSCDC top surveillance team members, who led the advance team in mufti and whose name cannot be mentioned for intelligence purpose, “The act was repeated severally, every direction the team moved the Hilux would go after them.”
“At about 6:52p.m., the officers were on their way driving out of Ode-Irele in four Hilux vans, they noticed a convoy following them and among the convoy was the Toyota Hilux without registration number, which had been trailing them around since noon. It was at this juncture that our men tried to stop the vehicles and identify the occupants.”
“They were told to alight for a search. They kept shouting and the man who later identified himself as (SOT) Akintoye Albert, said they should bring his gun and also threatened to turn to snake and bite them all. In the convoy was one Alhaji Omi, the other hefty guys who were also in the Hilux attempted to slap one of our officers with a rifle. At this juncture a single shot was fired into the air to scare them and thereafter, he identified himself and he was allowed to go.”
In furtherance of investigation into the allegation, the Deputy Superintendent of Corps, Gbore Benedict, who led the team, also told The Guardian: “No shot was fired at his car as he claimed; nobody was injured against what was published in the story and there was no confrontation between the officers of the Corps and the honourable with his men.”
NSCDC officers said Akintoye resorted to such subterfuge in the national dailies to cover up his activities in the illicit business in the area and the arrest of his wife, Toyin Akintoye, a nursing mother, who was arrested by the men of the Command in 2009 with her baby.
“The man is known to be a notorious bunkerer,” one of the officers alleged, saying he mobilised thugs to attack their men at Oka, in Ondo West Local Council, when conveying his wife and the illicit products to the Command in 2009.
They alleged that bunkering is a family business of the former lawmaker, affirming that the apprehended wife tried to bribe their men with N300, 000, which was used against her as exhibit in the case handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC): FRN Vs Akintoye Toyin Charge No/Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1490/09.
Balogun disclosed to The Guardian that the team swooned on oil bunkering suspects in the area, who fled to avert arrest and impounded 29 drums containing petrol, 22 kegs containing 30 litres of diesel each, 55 litres of DPK and a host pipe.
The new State Commandant, Adeyinka Fasiu, who just resumed duty two weeks ago from Imo State, stated categorically that “it was not in the character of the Corps to use arms to intimidate members of the public. Our officers are well-trained on arms handling and strictly adhere to the rules of engagement.”
Adeyinka, therefore,said, “It is in the figment of the imagination of the ex-honourable that all he claimed must have happened. Officers of NSCDC do not involve in politics other than discharge our duties conscientiously in line with our constitutional mandate.”
The new Commandants enjoined journalists to cross- check their facts before publishing stories in order not to give NSCDC a bad public image, saying “we would be happy if the newspapers that published the story online could publish the picture of the vehicle allegedly riddled with bullets and the three persons purported to have sustained injuries with the names of the hospital where they are receiving treatment, for Nigerians to confirm the veracity of the story.”
“We want journalists to always adhere to the canons of journalism, which are sincerity, independence, truthfulness, accuracy, impartiality, fair play and decency in writing their news stories,” he said.
In a telephone conversation, the former lawmaker dispelled the allegation against him by the Command, saying he was coming from a political meeting when he was assaulted by NSCDC officers.
He noted that there was no pipeline in Irele local council and that he could not have trailed men of the Command in the new model cars he claimed they vandalized alongside three of his boys that were reportedly brutalized.
Akintoye, who is a former Chairman of Irele Local Council before being elected to the National Assembly in 2011, told The Guardian that he has reported the case to the Nigeria Police Force and the Commissioner of Police has ordered the arrest of the NSCDC officials.
He threatened to write the Inspector-General of Police Solomon Arase, and called on the Federal Government to investigate the activities of Ondo State Command of the corp, insisting that there is no pipeline in Irele.