By Moses Omorogieva, Lagos.
No fewer than 15 suspected railway vandals have been arrested across the country by the Railway Police Command in the last two months.
A statement by the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Railway Police Command, Mrs Yetunde Longe, disclosed this on Tuesday in Lagos.
Longe said that the suspected vandals were arrested in different parts of the country between July and August.
She said that their arrests followed the command’s increased surveillance around the railway corridors, in its efforts to reduce vandalism and theft of railway infrastructure nationwide.
The police commissioner said that the command earlier, in May and June, arrested 13 suspects for alleged crimes bordering on theft, vandalism and other criminalities committed in and around infrastructure belonging to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
Longe said that a patrol team of the Railway Police Command intercepted and arrested three suspected vandals in Minna, Niger, after a tip off by some vigilantes.
She said that the suspects — Hadi Mohammed, 42; Abdullahi Mohammed,34; and Abdullahi Shittu, 45 — were arrested with 32 railway iron slippers loaded in a car.
She said that in Aba, four suspects, Michael Chukwuebuka, Chigozie Augustine, Onyekachi Abba, and Chukwuma Adumoha, were arrested in connection with the theft of railway pandrol slippers kept by the Chinese Construction Company (CCECC) for construction.
Longe said that the stolen items, which were recovered, had been handed over to the construction company, after the conclusion of police investigations.
The police chief also said that two fleeing suspects, Ridwan Olalekan and Sharafa Muritala, were apprehended and charged to court by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Railway Police Command.
She said that the suspects were initially spotted in a bush at Akwanga, Nasarawa State, where they had vandalised about 72 rail track irons.
“At the sight of the policemen, the suspects fled the scene and abandoned their truck. After intense investigation, the suspects were arrested and charged to court. Both had been remanded at Ikoyi Correctional Centre, Lagos,” she said.
Longe said that the Ilorin division of the Railway Police Command, during a routine patrol, also apprehended two suspected vandals, Yahaya Mohammed and Jumai Sule, with 113 pandrol clips in the Sabongida area of Jebba.
She said that in the Gombe division, one Bashir Abudullahi was arrested for vandalism and theft of 58 railway clips.
Within the period under review, Longe said that two trucks belonging to Dangote Sugar were spotted in Kaduna, loaded with unspecified amount of railway irons belonging to the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
She said that no suspects had been arrested in connection with the crime, adding, however, that the trucks had been moved to a safe custody, while investigations were ongoing.
The police commissioner solicited the cooperation of the public in crime-fighting efforts, saying that the importance of citizen-police partnership could not be over-emphasised.
She vowed that the war against railway vandalism would be continuous until the entire rail roads of the country were free from the menace of vandals and other criminal elements.
She warned that the criminals would be made to face the full wrath of the law.