By Kingsley Omonobi – Abuja.
Troops of the Nigerian Navy confronting pipeline vandals and oil thieves in the country have dismantled over 300 illegal crude oil siphoning g sites in Ogun and Lagos states even as some foreign collaborators without genuine documentation were also arrested.
According to the Navy, this was achieved following clearance operation in the maritime domain in an operation code-named Operation Kurombe conducted by Operation Awtse.
A statement by Commander Thomas Otuji, Media Coordinator, said, ‘”It is my pleasure to update you gentlemen of the press and members of the public with the activities of Operation Awatse especially on its ongoing surgical clearance operations being conducted within its Area of Operations as mandated.
“The Operation is Tagged Operation Kurombe literally meaning Clearance in the Yoruba Language. Let me inform you that the Operation is being conducted in line with its mandate and Rule of Engagement.
“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 where billions of naira have been lost to the activities of pipeline vandals.
“You will agree with me that Operation Awatse in the past had engaged in a 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.
“Specifically, from the early hours of Saturday 21 December 2019 till date, troops of Operations Awatse are engaged in a surgical operation to dislodge pipelines vandals from NNPC facility at Atlas Cove and environs in Lagos.
“The NNPC facility is a strategic national infrastructure for the reception of refined petroleum products for distribution across the county.
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“During the raid, devices which include fabricated pipes and multiple hoses connected to the NNPC pipelines to illegally siphon petrol were discovered over 300 points along the pipelines and were subsequently dismantled.
“It is instructive to note that during the raid, some foreigners were also found on the Islands without any form of documentation.
“Interrogations of dwellers by troops further revealed that vandals collude with these miscreants to export these stolen products to neighbouring countries thereby shortchanging 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 enumerated areas indicated a total of over 200 illegal structures (Shanties). Areas 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.
“Others are White House – 3 structures, Akaraba – 62 structures and Idi Mangoro – 28 structures.
“LSO included are Waterside – 19 structures, Ilado – 57 structures, Robert – 13 structures, Abule Glass – 21 structures, Ilashe – 37 structures. So far destroyed are 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.
“For legitimate residents of the Islands, let me reassure them that for no reason will troops of Operation Awatse unduly 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.
“You are enjoined 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.
“Operation Awatse will continue with the ongoing operations to destroy the capacity of pipelines vandals to disrupt the distribution of petroleum products by NNPC.”