The acting director defence information Brigadier General John Agim, said that the Operation AWATSE, one of the 7 Joint Task Forces under the control of Defence Headquarters participating in Operation 777, has recorded successes in its operations since it was launched.
The initiative is being conducted and coordinated simultaneously nationwide by the Defence Headquarters.
According to Agim, Operation AWATSE’s mandate is the protection of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation pipelines and infrastructure along the 72 km stretch of pipelines from Atlas Cove to Mosimi Depot and conduct of operations against anti-kidnapping, anti-robbery and related criminal activities including the security of Epe and Ogun Waterside in Lagos and Ogun States”.
He noted that prior to the launch of Operation 777 on 8 October 2018, Operation AWATSE had recorded successes in curbing the aforementioned criminal activities in its Area of Responsibility.
Agim further stated that despite that pipeline vandalism and oil theft still occur intermittently particularly in isolated areas where NNPC pipelines are located, the initiative has significantly reduced activities of vandals.
Also he said the activities of cultists particularly the AIYE and EIYE confraternities which re-emerged in Ikorodu and Shagamu areas of Lagos and Ogun States respectively, with resultant negative impact on the safety of lives and properties, has been put to rest.
Since the commencement of Operation 777 to rejig the existing operations, Operation AWATSE activities have been intensified through extensive patrols to ensure that troops dominate the Joint Operations Area (JOA) respective areas of operation. “Currently, Operation AWATSE troops have dominated FESTAC, Ijeododo, Ijagemo, Isawo, Majidun, Arepo, Elepete and Imagbon, while regular patrols are being conducted in other areas left uncovered due to shortage of manpower.
Since the commencement of Operation 777, Operation AWATSE operational activities have been aimed at denying criminals freedom of action and migration, and making of arrests where possible. The activities include patrols, ground and air reconnaissance, anti-bunkering and anti-cultism operations including Show of Force”, he said adding that these operations have suppressed the activities of miscreants significantly and led to the arrest of suspected pipeline vandals, cultists, robbers and other criminals.
Additionally, large volumes of petroleum products and other items have been recovered from vandals and oil thieves in areas such as Atlas Cove, Magboro, Ogijo, Akute-Odo, Isashi Akute, Ogijo and Akute Waterside. Nonetheless, the intention is to maintain the current tempo of operations in the JOA to ensure the activities of miscreants are highly mitigated, he said.
Agim stated that Operation AWATSE has recorded tremendous achievements since the commencement of Operation 777.
Some of the achievements include the arrest of 12 suspected pipeline vandals, 3 tankers, one trailer, 7 vehicles. Also arrested were 9 wooden boats, which were destroyed in situ.
Additionally, an estimated quantity of 120,000 litres of Premium Motor Spirit valued at Seventeen Million, Four Hundred Thousand Naira (N17,400,000.00) illegally siphoned from vandalized Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Pipelines has so far been recovered. Furthermore, a total of 26 suspected cultists, armed robbers and other criminals have been arrested within the period. Most of the suspects have been handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies for further investigation and possible prosecution, while the Headquarters 81 Division Provost is investigating some cases.
“It is pertinent to state that some of the achievements recorded by Operation AWATSE were made possible by the support of locals. This is no doubt an indication of the willingness on the part of the good citizens of Lagos and Ogun States to live in a society devoid of crime. I therefore want to thank the Commander Operation AWATSE and Flag Officer Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral OH Ngalabak, for his tenacity towards ridding Operation AWATSE Area of Responsibility of miscreants. I also want to applaud the tremendous support of His Excellency, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Executive Governor of Lagos State who acquired 8 brand new 2018 Toyota Hilux vehicles out of the 20 vehicles recently acquired to enable Operation AWATSE consolidate on its achievements” he said.
He expressed profound gratitude to the Chief of Defence Staff, General AG Olonisakin, whose visionary leadership and immeasurable support provided the resources and enabling environment for Operation AWATSE to function effectively.