Lagos shuts 12 houses as Police uncover illegal oil wells
• Stations Fire Tanker, Prepares Temporary Accommodation For Victims
The Lagos State Government on Friday shut 12 houses on Abeokuta and Ibadan Streets in Ilasamaja area of the State over the discovery of shallow oil wells built by landlords to illegally scoop diesel from pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The oil wells were said to have been built for the purpose of illegally scooping diesel and selling same to members of the public, while some of the affected landlords built pumping machines and boreholes to perpetrate the crime on a large scale.
Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, who confirmed this while briefing newsmen at the Lagos House, Ikeja, said the step to shut the wells and cordon off the area was taken by government to forestall the loss of lives and property as a result of the looming danger.
Ayorinde, who addressed journalists alongside top government functionaries and the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, 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 are located were taking advantage of the situation by commercializing the dangerous act.
He said that samples of the substance have been taken for immediate investigation in order to determine the true nature of the substance as well as the root cause of this unusual 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 wells have been sealed off, adding that the government would also work with those who are 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 and to urge them to always volunteer information before any potentially dangerous situation degenerates to public hazard,” he said.
Also speaking the Commissioner of Police confirmed the arrest of three suspects in the operation, adding that a fire tanker has 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 a keg of diesel and when an attempt was made to accost her, 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 harbouring the illegal oil wells.
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 on Abeokuta and Ibadan streets.
One of the landladies apprehendeded by the Police, Mrs. Moji Adeshina, on No 10 Abeokuta Street, was said to have given quit notice to her tenants for privacy to run her illicit business.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, Fatai Owoseni, said residents have been advised to relocate for safety reasons.
Owoseni, who visited the scene of the incident accompanied by Oluwasanni; Area ‘D’ Commander, ACP Gyadiayadi Salisu; Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Commander, ACP Olatunji Disu; the state Police Public Relations Officer, Dolapo Badmos and the LASEMA boss, Michael Akindele, in a chat with the media said: “The Ilasa DPO had gathered intelligence that some houses had diesel where the landlords and landladies engaged in illegal oil business.
“Some of the tenants denied culpability. But how can they live in the midst of oil and keep quiet. This is a disaster. If this catches fire, it will be disastrous because the area is densely populated.
“After now, the Lagos State Government will make an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to decide what to do with the diesel found in these wells.
“Already, the personnel of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) are at the wells to collect sample and test the quality of the diesel.
“As investigation progresses, we will track the buyers of the products and also arrest them. Already, we are ferreting information from the suspects arrested.”
Mrs. Adesina said: “It is true that they found diesel in my well but I never sold it. I noticed it three weeks ago and I haven’t touched it.”
On why she didn’t report to the police and motive for sending out her tenants, she said, “The house belongs to my late husband. It was a well we use for water but later diesel started coming out of it.”
Another suspect, Tajudeen Bamiloye, a landlord of one of the cordoned off houses, claimed he reported the incident to the Police.
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