An Assistant Superintendent of Police attached to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Adeniji Adele, Lagos State, Charles Achidika, and two other suspected oil thieves are currently battling for their lives at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.
It was learnt that Achidika and his accomplices, who are yet to be identified, were shot on the Badagry waterways around 2am on December 2, during a gun duel with men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Lagos State Command.
The officer and other suspects had reportedly attempted to transport 12,400 litres of petrol, said to have been stolen from a vandalised pipeline, to Seme, a Lagos border town.
Punch Metro gathered that Achidika allegedly opened fire on officials of the corps when the boat conveying the fuel was flagged down. He was later overpowered and arrested.
The two injured accomplices were still unconscious when the Punch correspondent visited LASUTH.
Five others – Bendran Isaac, Kobla Fashawo, Jimoh Olusegun, Akapo Joseph, and Amos Bakom – were also arrested in the operation.
It was gathered that an AK-47 rifle with the Nigeria Police Force inscribed on it and a pistol were recovered from them.
However, the ASP who managed to speak to journalists, denied being complicit in the illegal oil business, saying the boat operators were carrying him to where he wanted to apprehend some robbers when he was shot.
He said, “I am the Officer-in-Charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad attached to Badagry.
“We went for an anti-robbery operation. During the operation, officers of the NSCDC shot me. I didn’t go there to steal fuel. I don’t have the strength to talk.”
Thirty-year-old Olusegun said he, Fashawo and Bakom were taking the ASP for the operation on the sea when they observed that the NSCDC officials had arrested Isaac and Joseph with a fuel-laden boat.
He added that Achidika had wanted to free them when the gun duel began.
He said, “Officer Charles (Achidika) said he wanted to arrest some suspects on the sea, that we should take him there. On our way back, we saw a big boat and some persons with some NSCDC officers. We told the policeman to let us go since the people seemed to be in NSCDC custody, but he didn’t listen to us. It was the police officer that shot first before the NSCDC officials responded. We were not caught with fuel.”
Isaac, a 31-year-old Togolese, said a man called Champion had engaged him and six other fishermen to take the fuel to Seme, adding that he never met the cop prior to the fateful day.
He said, “I am a fisherman. A man called Champion came to me and said I would always help him to transport some fuel to Seme. We were taking the fuel to Seme when we were arrested on the waterways. They brought us to the shore and anchored our boat. The policeman came and asked who put us there and I told him it was the NSCDC.
“He ordered me to move the boat. I didn’t know him before. I started the engine and when we got to the middle of the sea, he shot in the air. The NSCDC men responded and there was a gun battle. This is my first time of carrying fuel. I am just the driver.”
The Lagos State Commandant of the corps, Gabriel Abafi, said six of the suspects escaped while the crossfire lasted. He added that the command swung into action after receiving a tip-off.