July 13, 2009

How militants blew up Atlas Cove in Lagos

By Emma Nnadozie and Albert Akpor

LAGOS – MILITANTS yesterday continued their offensive in the unending bombardment of oil installations in the country blowing off Atlas Cove, a major petroleum product distribution to Mosemi and Ejigbo depots.

Destroyed NNPC's Jetty at Atlass-Cove, Tarkwa Bay, Lagos by MEND yesterday. Photo by Lamidi Bamidele

Destroyed NNPC's Jetty at Atlass-Cove, Tarkwa Bay, Lagos by MEND yesterday. Photo by Lamidi Bamidele

Three naval personnel including a naval commander identified as Kolawole Joseph Aweh were burnt beyond recognition, Sources said the attack took place at about 10.30pm.

According to sources, the militants numbering 225 and armed to the teeth stormed the oil installation in 15 boats and opened fire sporadically at the sight of a naval personnel who was said to be the Officer- in-charge, killing him on the spot. Others who heard the deafening bombardment took a swift dive into the water for safety. However, two other unidentified ratings who were not so lucky were killed during the militants’ indiscriminate use of fire power.

The militants were said to had continued their offensive by storming the armoury after which they carted away a large number of arms and ammunition. Sources said they planted dynamite on all other strategic area of the oil installation and blew the whole installations into pieces.

When Vanguard visited the area at about 1.30 pm today, charred remains of the officers including the commander who was said to had resumed duty barely three weeks at the Atlas Cove were spotted on the ground, several arms and ammunition that were destroyed also littered the ground.

An officer who spoke on condition of anonymity described the invasion as `unprecedented` adding that “it was an attack too many. The navy did not expect this. From the way they came, it is evident that some of them might have been hiding in the neighbouring villages including Takwa bay before they struck”

As at the time of filling this report, it was not possible to get the reaction of the Director of Naval Information, Commodore David Nabaida. But the Chief of Naval Staff, CNS Ibrahim Ishaya, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Ola S. Ibrahim were on groung to assess the extent of damages. They all kept sealed lips over the attack.

More later….