By Stanley Onyekwere
In what appears as a major boost to the seemingly endless fight against vandalism, the FCT Command of the Nigeria Civil Defence and Security Corps (NSCDC) have arrested a syndicate group purportedly specialised in the removal and carting away of kerb edges and stones from major roads in Abuja, the nation’s capital city.
It was gathered that three suspected vandals that had engaged in their nefarious act in the last one month, before they were intercepted in one of their sites, after Games Village area of Abuja.
Interestingly, the those suspected of vandalism were paraded along with four other persons, suspected of dealing illegally in petroleum products in Jahi District of the Territory.
Our correspondent reports that all the suspects were paraded along with a Toyota car loaded with kerb edges and stones, as well as a mini truck (tanker) filled with an undisclosed petroleum product.
Speaking to newsmen while parading the suspects at the weekend, the Commandant, FCT Command of the NSCDC, Patrick Ukpan, disclosed that the two set of suspects in its custody were caught in the act, following intelligence and swift response from its personnel.
Ukpan added that investigation is already on to get to the root of the matter, so as to unearth their collaborators, and at the end of which, they will be arraigned in the court.
“We paraded two set of suspects in our custody allegedly caught in the act. The first set are suspected vandals, who we caught based on intelligence, vandalising kerb stones on the expressway, used demarcated the road from the pedestrian walkway.
“So these suspected vandals go there vandalising these items (facilities), but we have caught them and they along with some of the vandalised items are in our custody now.
“Then, we also have another set of suspected illegal dealers in petroleum products. This activity is taking place in an area around Jahi District of the FCT.
“ And based on intelligence, our anti-vandalism Department went to the area, and caught them in the act, so they are also in our custody”, he explained.
He adds that: “Investigation is ongoing to find out on whose authority they are operating in that area. Because, the area where they are carrying out these suspected illegal activities in petroleum products is a residential area, where such activities are not supposed to take place.”
Furthermore, Ukpan warned all those who have criminal tendencies to desist from perpetuating such, because there are a lot of legal activities that they can engage in , which will give them money to fend for themselves in the Territory.
He also advised FCT residents to always be vigilant and report to security operatives, whenever they suspect that people around their areas are engaging in activities that they are not comfortable with.
However, one of the suspected vandals, Solomon Chang, said he and others were caught in the act by a security personnel who intercepted them in one of their site after Games Village area of Abuja.
Chang, who admitted his wrongdoing, saying “ it’s the work of devil and temptation,” and I have been picking up and selling the kerbs for about a month.
According to him, “At times I pick the kerb edges and stones from the roads, and it was when I was picking the ones along the road to International Academy, around Games Village area, that one Mopol officer blocked us, wanting to know who gave us to do so.
“Though, I didn’t know that he is working with FCDA (Federal Capital Development Authority), I explained to that I want to make use of them, that’s why I was packing them. It was then he arrested us along with the vehicle (used for loading the items).”
Meanwhile, one of the suspects of illegal petroleum products dealership, zuchukwu Okonkwo, who denied wrongdoing, said: “ I used to buy my diesel from a depot in Lagos, and then supply in Abuja, so I have the waybill and everything that we use to buy it from depot.
“ We buy from Conoil, we from Matrix, so I don’t know what bring illegal into this (business). I have trucks they use to carry the oil (petroleum products) for supply.
“ I’m not into illegal petroleum products dealership, because I buy from depot. And I have been doing the business for almost twenty years in Abuja.”