The Nigerian Army has arrested eleven persons, including three of its serving personnel and a dismissed Air Force personnel, for allegedly vandalising solar panels belonging to government and private individuals in Lagos.
The suspects were found to have been responsible for vandalising the solar items at Epe, Sangotedo, Elerangbe and Badagry area of the state during preliminary investigation.
The serving Army personnel were taken to the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Victoria Island yesterday, where an in-house investigation on their culpability commenced.
The Acting Commission of Police in Lagos State, Imohimi Edgar said that over 16 solar panels and batteries were recovered from the suspects, who confessed to be selling each for N25,000 as against the usual price of N100, 000.
The suspects were identified as Samuel Ani, 30; Michael Omoregbe, 30; Efosa Philip Emmanuel, 27; Ifedayo Odufoye, 35; Chibizie Nnamani, 34; Festus Maduka, 26; John Nwokeoma, 31, and Chibuzor Chukwu, 23.
Leader of the gang, Ani, told journalists that he usually paid each soldier N50,000 to escort the stolen items from where they were vandalised to Arena Market along Agege Motor Road, where they sold them to traders.
He said: “After vandalising, we will take it to Arena, where I sold solar panel for N25, 000 and the battery for N17,000. I used the soldiers as escorts.
“They charged us N150,000 to escort the items from Epe to Oshodi and they are aware that they are stolen items. I was yet to pay them the money before we were arrested.”
Briefing journalists on how they were arrested, Edgal, said, “On September 5, at about 2 a.m., seven armed men invaded Okemagbon Senior Secondary school, Epe, along with three soldiers in a truck with number plates LND 61 XQ.
“They headed straight to the solar panel and vandalised 71 solar panels.
“Immediately the local police was alerted, they mobilised a patrol team to the scene, where the suspects were arrested.
“Preliminary investigation also led operatives of the command to track other suspects to Delta, Anambra and Imo states, where one Festus Maduka was picked up in a hotel. He confessed to have received solar panels and inverter batteries from the gang.
“Sixteen solar panels and 33 inverter batteries were recovered from them.”