The police in Lagos State have arrested some hoodlums for vandalising and stealing telecommunications cables worth N60m in the Ojodu Berger and Ogba areas of the state.
Our correspondent learnt that the suspects, who worked for a yet-to-be-identified company, came in a military van, marked OP MESSA Sector 3 005, with number plate NA 0002 9 Brigade.
It was learnt that the suspects, who wore green vests, allegedly unearthed and cut the cables before packing them into a truck on Saturday around 2pm.
Our correspondent gathered that the cables, which belonged to a firm, Peace Global Satellite Communications Limited, were thereafter taken away by the suspects.
The men, numbering eight, were said to have vandalised the cables on the grounds that they belonged to the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited and that their firm had bought the NITEL cables.
While the act of vandalism allegedly went on, a worker of PGSC, who reportedly asked them to stop the act, was allegedly beaten up by a soldier who accompanied them.
Our correspondent learnt that the matter was reported at the Ojodu Police Division and the police ordered the truck carrying the vandalised cables to be brought to the station.
It was gathered that the suspects were invited on Sunday to make statements at the station after which they were detained.
The Managing Director of PGSC, Livingstone Oreye, who showed PUNCH Metro the damaged cables, said, “On Saturday, at about 2pm, I received a call that some unknown persons were cutting the underground cables bought and installed by the firm since 2004.
“My workers explained to the copper dealers that the cables belonged to a private firm and not NITEL. But the workers forcefully broke into our underground joint box and cut over 1,200 petrol jelly-filled cables at several joints. The suspects instigated a soldier to slap one of my workers, boasting that we could not do anything.
“They claimed that the cables belonged to NITEL, but we told them that the cables have PGSC inscriptions on them and that they have no right to trespass on a private property. The workers refused and moved from one joint box to another, vandalising our cables and putting them in the truck they brought.”
Oreye added that the damage had affected the company’s operations since Saturday, saying that the cables in circulation now could not be as strong as the ones vandalised by the suspects.
“The act of vandalism has affected our telephone network and the perpetrators should be prosecuted. The cables, which were produced by Kable Metal, are no longer easy to get as the company has stopped producing in Nigeria.
“All the underground cables from Ogba down to Omole and Ojodu Berger were vandalised by the suspects, who claimed that only NITEL could afford such cables,” he said.
Our correspondent, who obtained the Nexans Kabelmetal Nigeria Plc receipt showing the purchase of the cables, was told that they were valued at N63,836,757 as of 2004.
It was also gathered that the cables were used to provide wire telephone connections to five police stations in the area, which were Area G, Ogba; Ojodu, Alausa and Isheri in the Lagos State Police Command, and the Ojodu Abiodun Police Division in the Ogun State Police Command.
Our correspondent was told that Oreye had also petitioned the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, to investigate the matter and bring those behind the destruction to book.
Efforts to get the identity of the company which the workers worked for were not successful as of press time.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, confirmed the arrest of the suspects.
She said, “The case is under investigation. The suspects will soon be charged to Court.