By DAPO OLAWUNI
The troops of ‘Operation AWATSE’ of the Nigerian Navy, Western Naval Command have destroyed 462 illegal shanties and structures built around Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline around Atlas Cove in Lagos, even as the team discovered and confiscated 310 discovered wells with Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) also known as petrol, as well as 5 thousand jerry cans with petrol.
The discoveries were made during a covert operation tagged OPERATION KUROMBE. In December 2019, the troop embarked on a surgical operation to dislodge pipelines vandals from NNPC facility at ATLAS Cove and environs in Lagos.
In a statement sent to DAILY TREND NEWS yesterday by the spokesman of Operation AWATSE, Commander Thomas Otuji, the troop have so far destroyed 462 illegal structures, 150 thousand empty jerry cans discovered, over 5 thousand jerry cans with PMS confiscated, 310 discovered well/pits with PMS and 21 canoes and 2 boats.
During the raid, he said devices which include fabricated pipes and multiple hoses connected to the NNPC pipelines to illegally siphon petrol were discovered at over 300 points along the pipelines and were subsequently dismantled.
Commander Otuji also said that a total of over 200 illegal structures already surveyed for ongoing demolition include; Old Akinbo – 12 structures, Aditu–5 structures, Phase 2 – 17 structures, Ikate – 22 structures, Upstairs 5 structures, Virgin Land- 3 structures, White House – 3 structures, Akaraba – 62 structures and Idi Mangoro – 28 structures. Others are Waterside – 19 structures, Ilado – 57 structures, Robert – 13 structures, Abule Glass – 21 structures, Ilashe – 37 structures.
He said “The mandate of OPERATION AWATSE is to curb pipeline vandalism, crude oil and petroleum product theft, anti-kidnapping, anti-robbery, anti-cultism and other related criminal activities that would impact negatively on the security of Lagos and Ogun; particularly Epe and Ogun waterside”
“This mandate entails the protection of the critical NNPC pipelines, within the Right Off Way from Atlas Cove to Mosomi were billions of naira has been lost to the activities of pipeline vandals”
“You will agree with me that OPERATION AWATSE in the past had engaged in series of operations within the same corridor with huge seizures of various petroleum related materials from criminals”
“After several considerations and consultations, the DHQ deemed it necessary to embark on a surgical operation in order to sanitize the entire Atlas Cove and environs of all forms of criminality”
“It is instructive to note that during the raid, some foreigners were also found on the Islands without any form of documentations. Interrogations of dwellers by troops further revealed that vandals collude with these miscreants to export these stolen products to neighbouring countries thereby short changing Nigeria”
“In view of these atrocities, it became expedient to identify these illegal structures so as to sanitize the entire island of these mischief makers”
The Navy have however assured legitimate residents of the Islands, that the troops of Operation AWATSE would not harass or intimidate anyone as they are there to carry out the Mandate of the Operation using its Standing Operating Procedure and Rules of Engagement as guide.
He enjoined all residents to cooperate with the troops to rid criminals from the islands for the benefit of inhabitants of the place and for a safer environment.
“Furthermore, members of the general public and indeed law abiding citizens especially in Lagos and Ogun states are advised to go about their lawful business and are enjoined to promptly report any infractions by criminals to the Operation’s Headquarters for prompt actions”