Thirty-year-old Ajani added that he had bought 15,000 litres of fuel for N600,000 in 300 jerrycans at the time when he and his two friends were arrested by the police.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Ajani and the two others ─ Demola Lawrence and Olu Raymond ─ were nabbed by operatives of the Inspector General of Police Special Task Force on Anti-Pipeline Vandalism in the Owode, Ikorodu area of the state.
It was gathered that the syndicate, along with others at large, allegedly specialised in dealing in fuel products stolen from vandalised pipelines of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Our correspondent learnt that the police recovered 300 of 50-litre jerrycans loaded with petrol from the suspects, which they were reportedly transporting to buyers in various parts of Lagos on July 30.
It was gathered that the police, acting on a tip-off, had intercepted the truck when it got to Owode.
Speaking with PUNCH Metro, Ajani, who noted that it was his third operation in the creeks, said their mode of operation was to buy stolen fuel from the vandals in hundreds of jerrycans and to distribute them to several outlets.
Ajani, who claimed that he never knew that dealing in fuel from vandalised pipelines was a crime, added that he made a profit of N500,000 from his first business in the creeks.
He said, “It was the desire to make more money that led me to this business. I was initially selling building materials in the Ketu area. But some of my customers who came from Ikorodu suggested that I should start buying and reselling fuel siphoned in the creeks.
“They told me they were making a lot of money from it, and I begged them to show me the way. They said they would not take me to the inner creeks because I could not swim, but they would show me how I could buy the product, and resell it to people.
“I was also introduced to some buyers in the Ijora and neighbouring areas. When I go to the creeks, I buy a litre of fuel for N40. So, I bought a 50-litre jerrycans of fuel for N2,000. But it goes for N4,000 when I take it out.
“In May, which was my first outing, I bought 250 of 50-litre jerrycans from an Ijaw woman, identified only as Mama Bose. I loaded them in a truck, and took them inside Lagos to sell. I sold it for N1,000,000. The second time was in June, and I bought 150 jerrycans for N300,000.
“My biggest operation was the one during which I was arrested. I bought 300 jerry cans from Mama Bose for N600,000.
“I was hoping to make a profit of same amount. But the police intercepted the products while on our way out and arrested me.”
Ajani noted that the two other suspects were his driver and co-buyer.
The Commander of the task force, CSP Olumese Valentine, who confirmed the arrest, said the vandals were a large syndicate in the area, adding that the police would not relent to clamp down on them.
He said, “This syndicate is the main reason why the vandals are still operating at Arepo, Ogun State.
“They are the ones receiving the products from the vandals, and they then sell to those who would sell to the end users. It is a large syndicate with so many people involved.
“When I received a tip-off, I directed the Lagos Sector Commander to track them down, which he did. As we clamp down on this syndicate, the vandals will be forced out of business.”