Nigerian Forces deployed to combat pipeline vandalism and bunkering in the creeks of Lagos State have been charged to ‘go all out’ against suspected vandals.
The State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode challenged the joint security forces which include men of the Nigeria Army, Navy and Air-Force, during a tour of Ikorodu axes where activities of the vandals were prevalent.
Governor Ambode who said he was visiting the front lines of the operation to appreciate the efforts of the security operatives and to reiterate government’s commitment to nip economic sabotage in the bud.
“On behalf of the good people of Lagos State, I am visiting this area to show our appreciation firstly to the Nigerian security forces that have joined hands together in assisting the Lagos State Government to eradicate vandalism within Ikorodu-Ishawo axes that link Arepo in Ogun State; we will like to reiterate once again our full commitment to support security agencies in eradicating vandalism and all sort of vices from the street of Lagos” he added.
Improvement in security
The Governor, in company of heads of Army, Navy and Air-Force in the state affirmed that there had been an appreciable improvement in security in the areas since the deployment of the forces in October last year.
“I have come here personally with the heads of security agencies in Lagos State and the Security Council members to firstly appreciate the work of security agencies that have been posted here since last October and to also commend you for the improvement we have made since the time that you commenced operation here; beyond the fact that we are supporting the Nigerian Police, we are also now more than ever committed to support all the other security agencies in ensuring that they carry out their work more efficiently,” he said.
He also warned vandals and cultists in the state to desist from their nefarious activities as the security forces were at liberty to use appropriate force where necessary against them.
“I will like to use this platform to give a very strong warning to vandals and cultists that are parading themselves on the street of Lagos, just recently in the press, we heard that the fingers of some of our men in the Task Force were chopped off by some hoodlums so to speak. I’m using this platform also to direct our security forces that they should go ahead to use appropriate force in mitigating against such incidences next time and this is in the overall interest of all of us, while we make sure that we are upholding the rule of law,” he said.
During an interactive session with the community people, Governor Ambode informed that government would look at the possibility of finding a way to construct a road linking Ishawo down to Arepo and then to the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Meanwhile, Commander of the joint operation, Lieutenant Colonel Julius Ogbebe, said the operation code-named “Operation AWATSE” had been able to stem the tide of vandalism since October 2015. According to Lieutenant Colonel Ogbebe, the hotel being used by the vandals had been taken over by the Nigerian forces.
“I have 650 all ranks deplored for “operation AWATSE.” I also have my Naval counterparts, “Operation AWATSE” has made tremendous achievements. Over the past few months; Little Palace Hotel, one of the famous places that the vandals used to hide to commit their criminal activities; we occupied it on October 10, 2015. We have recovered over 2,000 by 50 litres of illegal products from vandals. Also sir, we have recovered over 36 vehicles and we have more than 15 suspects. Some of them have been handed over to the NSCDC (Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps) for prosecution and further action. So far so good, we have tried to garrison Ishawo and all the general areas of Arepo but still the vandals have not relented in their activities, last week, we lost two of our Naval personnel and a boat operator,” he stated.
He stated that the visit of the governor would in no small measure boost the morale of his men.
The forces were deployed from the 174 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Navy Ship, Apapa and 435 BSG (Best Service Group) of the Nigeria Air-Force.