Six suspects allegedly engaging in the buying and selling of adulterated and syphoned crude oil products at an illegal fuel dump in Owerri have been arrested by officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The suspects were arrested on Thursday after close surveillance by the Imo State Command of the NSCDC.
Crude oil theft has been on the increase in Nigeria, with the nation losing huge sum, a situation that the State Commandant of the security agency, Mr Pedro Ideba, said was sabotaging the economy.
He told reporters that the suspects arrested at 21, Olokoro Street in Owerri had been closely watched by his men for a period of time.
“When concrete information got to us that a truck loaded with oil was about offloading at the wee hours of the night, my men went in and arrested the suspects.
“They are economic saboteurs who do not mean well for the people of the State and the entire nation,” Mr Ideba stated.
From outside, the building leaves no trace of the kind of activities going on inside. At the backyard of the bungalow in Aladinma Estate in Owerri was a ‘mini refinery’.
Heavy odour of crude comes out of the backyard area and the presence of heavy petrol tanks, petrol truck, different sizes of jerry cans and oil drums, electricity generating set, used cellophane bags tied up in sacks and oil products of different colours showed the activities that could be going on at the location.
The suspected owner of the business, who said she was a widow with five children, disagreed with the allegations levelled against her.
She told reporters that her business was genuine and that she had been doing the business for close to 10 years.
Her claim was also supported by her workers.
However, the NSCDC boss said investigations into the matter had started and that all found guilty would be prosecuted.