Parading the suspects before newsmen in Umuahia on Friday at the command’s headquarters in Umuahia, the state Commandant, Mr Nnamdi Nwannukwu, said that they were arrested at about 1.30 am on Thursday at Imo Gate in Ukwa Local Government Area of the state.
Nwannukwu said that the suspects were arrested by a combined team of anti-vandalism squad of the command, while conveying automated gas oil in three vehicles.
According to him, “Each of the vehicles contained 30 nylon bags of 25 litres of the gas.
“You can see that these criminals have devised other wicked tactics in perpetuating their illegal acts.
“We are equally proactive in discovering them through sustained surveillance, intelligence and professionalism of our anti-vandalism squad.”
The commandant said that preliminary investigation by the command showed that the products had no purchase receipt, waybill or metre ticket and that the vehicles had no haulage permit.
He further said that they had no operational licence to deal in petroleum products.
He said that the arrest had shown that illegal oil dealers had resorted to the use of passenger vehicles “as against the conventional tankers, just to beat security.”
Nwannukwu said that the command had zero tolerance for all manner of illegalities and criminalities that constituted economic sabotage and loss of huge revenue to the Federal Government.
He said: “The rising tide of illegal dealing in petroleum products in Abia is alarming and is henceforth no longer acceptable to the command.”
He said that the command had a forum which helped to bring the corps officials and traditional rulers, community leaders and youths together on a regular basis to fashion out ways to deal with the phenomenon.
The commandant further said that the command was working in synergy with other sister-security agencies, including holding joint operations.
He said that the command had so far prosecuted 25 cases, secured 10 convictions with 15 pending in court.
He admonished illegal petroleum products dealers “to desist from it and look for lawful means of livelihood or be prepared to face the full wrath of the law.”
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, the suspects admitted commiting the offence, in spite of being aware that the business was illegal.
(Edited by Sam Oditah)
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