Operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have arrested four school-leavers for allegedly producing adulterated engine oil. The suspects, John Ibem, Lawrence Frank, Agu Ndubuisi and Samuel Chukwuonye, were paraded on Friday at the Lagos State Command of the NSCDC in Ikeja. They were apprehended on Thursday at a factory on Marine Bridge Street, Apapa, where the lubricant was produced in large quantity.
The factory owner, identified simply as Emeka, took to his heels and was still at large as of the time of filing this report. The suspects branded the counterfeit product in the name of a leading lubricant producer in the country in order to deceive unsuspecting members of the public.
Five jerrycans containing the counterfeit product and a bucket of gum used in the factory were said to have been recovered by the security operatives. However, the suspects did not disclose the price at which they sold a jerrycan of the adulterated lubricant. The same quantity of the original engine oil was sold for N5,000.
Ndubuisi, 19, who hails from Ebonyi State, said five drums of the counterfeit oil with 250 litres each were produced daily at the factory. The teenager, who said he was paid N8,000 per week, added that he wanted to use his wages to fund his higher education.
He said, “I am one of the manufacturers at the factory. We produce about five drums per day. The oil is packaged inside four-litre jerrycans. But I don’t know the price for each. It is our boss, Emeka, that markets the product. He does not disclose the price to us. He gives me N8,000 per week. I just finished my secondary school and I intend to continue my education.”
23-year-old Chukwuonye from Anambra State said he did not know the factory produced adulterated engine oil until he was arrested. “I was arrested the first day I worked with them,” he added.
Ibem, an indigene of Abia State, who regretted working at the factory, said his role was to package the oil into jerrycans in readiness for sale. He said: “I joined the factory in February 2015. I collected N8,000 per week. My work is to package the oil for sale but it is our boss that takes it to the market.”
23-year-old Frank, said, “My duty is to load the product inside buses for it to be taken to the market. But I don’t know where it is sold. I know it is adulterated. It was joblessness that made me join the factory. I just finished from secondary school last year.”
Two other suspects ; 50-year-old Kehinde Atanda and Johnson Uche, 25, – were also paraded on Friday for alleged adulteration and illegal dealing in oil. But Atanda, who hails from Kwara State, said: “I sell oil in Apapa. I normally buy remnants of oil in Apapa and I give it to Uche to help me filter it. I have been doing the business for seven years. I wanted to collect the refined oil from him when I was arrested.”
Uche, 25, confirmed to Punch correspondent that he assisted Atanda to filter the alleged remnants of oil.
The Commandant, NSCDC, Lagos Command, Tajudeen Balogun, said his men swooped on the suspects based on intelligence report, adding that they would face the full weight of the law to serve as a deterrent to others. He said: “They were caught where they were doing illegal mixing. The oil can destroy car engines. A laboratory test is ongoing on the product in order to confirm its counterfeit nature and to serve as evidence against them.”