Ilase: A Disaster Waiting To Happen

A well

A well

Ilase is a remote riverine village of about 5,000 people in Ojo Local Government  Area of Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.  This village is completely cut off from  civilisation as there is no electricity.  The main occupation of residents is  fishing and farming.

•One of the wells from which the criminals reach the pipes and steal petroleum products.

Access to the village is difficult as one has to travel by water for about one hour  to get there. This is why the presence of power is unthinkable in the village.

However, this village has become a gold mine for oil bunkerers who rake in millions  of naira from the illegal business which had been going on for years. An oil  pipeline runs through the village  and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,  NNPC, does not seem to think of its safety or otherwise. Many of the villagers have  thus dropped their fishing occupation and become bunkerers.

The big oil bunkering business began when the NNPC replaced the old pipeline with a  new one. A police post was sited in the area to watch over the pipeline and prevent  it from being vandalised by unscrupulous elements, but the police have formed an  alliance with the bunkerers who grease their palms with fat sums of money to allow  them continue the thriving business.

The bubble burst recently when the Lagos State Taskforce on Environment and related  offences got a message about the illegal business and how the NNPC pipeline had been  converted into a gold mine by the unscrupulous elements.

Last Tuesday, the taskforce men raided the village and arrested two people in  connection with the business and discovered several 50 litres jerry cans of fuel.  They promised to come back the following day; but on the next day, many of the  villagers had deserted the village, including the traditional ruler, to avoid  arrest.

Over 2,000 oil wells covering a land mass of 1,000 square metres had been dug by the  bunkerers where they scoop fuel. The astonishing thing about it all was that the  wells were under lock and keys by their owners. Through these wells, linked to the  pipeline, large quantities of petroleum products are scooped for sale.

This business normally takes place at night and in the early hours of the day. The  entire village is at risk of being consumed by an inferno, and a raging one at that  if one of the wells catches fire. Danger looms in this village and neighbouring ones  if fire should break out.

Taskforce Chairman, Bayo Sulaiman, led his men to raid the village and dislodge the  vandals. Several make shift structures that serve as shelter for the criminals were  all over the place, while several holes from which fuel is scooped littered the  ground.

According to Sulaiman, the taskforce got wind of the situation following a Save Our  Soul message by a concerned citizen who had observed the situation in the community  for quite a while.

Related News

He said the taskforce acted on the information received and that upon investigation,  it discovered that the situation required immediate attention in order to save lives  and properties. “When we got the information, we invaded the area on Tuesday and  arrested two suspects, and about 10 gallons of 50 litres kegs of fuel that were  stored in the house of one of the arrested suspect were seized.”

He gave the name of the two suspects as Lateef Rafiu and Mrs. Wenusi Barevil, adding  that the others involved in the crime had fled the village before their arrival. He  said the two suspects would be charged according to the law.

According to him, the command or the state government would write NNPC so that they  would know what was happening in the area and the need to take precautionary  measures to avert disaster.

One of the suspects, Barevil, denied involvement in the operation. She explained  that she was only helping the people to store the fuel in her house for the day  before the police came and arrested her. “On Tuesday, when I woke up, I saw over 30  jerry cans in my compound, I inquired who kept them there and my children told me  that Mr. Senayon Kokulosu and his friend, Janet, dropped them yesterday. They  started this bunkering when the NNPC change the old pipeline,” she added.

She denied that she was being money to help the bunkerers store the fuel in her  house, adding that this was the second time she was helping them before the police  arrested her.

The other suspect, Rafiu also denied involvement in the act, saying that his mission  before his arrest was to buy fish for his sister who wanted to use it for her baby’s  naming ceremony.

A teacher, who craved anonymity, told P.M.Metro that the illegal operation had been  going on in the community for years, saying that the people involved work hand in  hand with the police officials who allegedly assist them in the sale of the fuel.

“The police are aware and I see them parade here every day; so, they cannot claim  that this is strange or new, this is God’s own village and we know that certainly,  nothing will happen to us,” the teacher stated.

  Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2010 P.M.News

Load more