The Head of the anti-vandal unit, Mr Benedict Apochi, disclosed this at a sensitisation workshop, organised by the unit at the command’s headquarters, Benin.
He said that of the figure, 100 suspected vandals were prosecuted out of whom 60 were convicted.
Apochi, who spoke on the topic: “Adverse Effect of Vandalism on Our Economy,” expressed the regret that vandalism had eaten deep into the country’s fabric.
He called for collaboration among all stakeholders to effectively curb the menace.
Apochi noted that perpetrators of vandalism were, in most cases, known by law-abiding citizens, appealing to the public to assist the corps with useful information that could lead to their arrest.
According to him, the adverse effect of vandalism cannot be over-emphasised, as it has caused serious retrogression to the country, particularly in the area of pipe-borne water, oil and telecommunication infrastructure.
“If we want to rejuvenate and reposition the corps to be able to deliver on its mandate more effectively, especially in protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure, then there is the need for us to see how the menace of vandalism can be tackled.
“We want to ensure that the corps does not relent in discharging its core mandate of protecting critical national infrastructure”, he said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the NSCDC Commandant in the state, Mr Aniekan Udoeyop, noted that oil had become the mainstay of the nation’s economy.
Udoeyop said that vandalism, in any form, was an act of sabotage to the nation’s economy, adding that if the major source of the economy was destroyed, nothing would be left for the economy.
“There is, therefore, the need to put an end to every act of sabotage, and this sensitisation is part of the efforts at forging ways forward in this regard.
“This gathering is also for us to rub minds on how to move the economy forward,” he said.
Some of the stakeholders, who spoke at the occasion, agreed that the nation’s critical assets should be protected.
They, however, called on government to provide an enabling environment that would take youths off the streets.
Mr Fred Ufua, National Secretary, Private Depots, Oil and Gas Marketers Association of Nigeria (PDOGMAN), noted that though it was important for NSCDC to protect critical national infrastructure/assets, there was, however, the need for government to ensure the welfare of citizens.
Ufua also advised the corps to take the sensitisation to the hinterlands where, he said, vandalism was rampant.
He also called for synergy among sister security agencies as well as stakeholders in curbing vandalism, noting that the issue of security and curbing vandalism should not be left in the hands of NSCDC alone.
Also, Mr Michael Ahanor, Chairman, Association of Nigeria Refineries, Edo chapter, called for a holistic approach to addressing vandalism in the country.
Ahanor noted that vandalism had become endemic in the country, hence the need for concerted efforts to nip the menace in the bud.