It is hard to believe that the criminal work of the ever recurring petroleum pipeline vandalism so prevalent in the Southern parts of the country is a work of a well heeled syndicate using the cover of officials of Nigerian security agencies. It is disturbing but true as our exclusive investigation reveals. Extraordinary details through our investigations have emerged on the activities of the oil vandals and how they have built a sophisticated network of collaborators in the northern parts of the country for the sell of their stolen petroleum products. This dare devil syndicate has developed a ready market as well as flawless distribution network through which their products are sold with the ease to presumed legitimate dealers.

Ahmad Salkida

Findings by revealed that the vandals have a clandestine but outrageously bold network that criss-crosses the major oil companies operating in the downstream sector, strategic formations of the Nigerian security agencies and sundry oil industry platforms that frequently and effectively put to their disposal as and when needed. It is usually from their well placed contacts in the oil companies operating in the downstream sector that the vandals usually get information on when to strike at a particular pipeline point. With the cover of usually well armed security personnel in official uniforms with operation vehicles, the vandals move in, pry open a point on the pipeline, drain as much content as their capacity could carry. From the pipeline point they usually divert the content to some other underground location for processing and loading. It is at the loading point that all vestiges of criminality is eliminated as the legitimate oil dealers are the ones that take the fuel from this point in their trucks.

This particular syndicate hardly damage pipelines, they turn the pipes on and off with the locally constructed taps they created, and till date, the syndicates work with security officials that give them the necessary cover they require to 'succeed,' learnt. After loading the trucks meant to head across the boarder or to the northern parts of the country are usually disguised to create the impression it is ferrying foodstuffs or other non petroleum goods. The accompanying exclusive pictures tell the story even more vividly as the trucks are escorted by some rogue elements within the security agencies. "Sometimes we don't get escorts we pay our way through checkpoints all the way from Auchi to Kano," said one of the transporters, referring to his particular experience. He added that, they usually sell the petrol (as seen in photos), between 40 to 50 Naira per litre at point of purchase before heading back to reload.

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