A 30-year-old man, Eyo Effiom, says he sells stolen cables from transformers to an Alhaji in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, who usually pick up the stolen items at 3am.
Effiom said this after he was nabbed on Monday vandalising the transformer at the Edgerton/John Stone area of Calabar South.
The culprit, who was caught by a vigilance group and beaten before he was handed over to the police, said, “I have been alone in this venture since the beginning of 2015. They have arrested almost all the fellow gang members. When I steal the cable, I have an Alhaji at Bogobiri who comes with his vehicle as early as 3am to carry the items and pay me cash.”
An eyewitness, Mr. Mpama Asim, told PUNCH Metro on Tuesday that Effiom had been vandalising transformers in the locality for more than two years.
He said he was caught in the act at about 2am while trying to remove the armoured cable.
Asim said he saw him and immediately alerted other members of the vigilance group who immediately nabbed Effiom.
He said, “We knew he was the one because we chased him from a transformer he was trying to vandalise sometime last month, but he escaped. Immediately I saw him again, I recognised him and alerted my colleagues and we arrested him.”
A community leader in the area, Chief Mike Ekpo, said the vandal had forced the residents to spend thousands of naira on protection of transformers.
Ekpo said the suspect was residing in the area, adding that residents had been saddled with the responsibility of replacing vandalised transformers over the years.
He said, “We are really surprised because Effiom lives in this neighborhood. His house is on John Stone Street. We have had to replace stolen transformer components two times this month (March).
“The amoured cable he tried to steal costs N60, 000. We are glad that a vigilance group set up to check these criminals and today we have caught the thief.”
A cold room owner in the area, Uwem Eshiet, said he had spent over N1.5m fixing vandalised transformers in the area in a bid to ensure there was steady electricity supply.
When contacted, the state Public Relations Officer, Mr. Hogan Bassey, confirmed that the suspected vandal was with the police, adding that investigation was ongoing.