The Joint Military Task Force (JTF) under Operation AWATSE on Tuesday said it had arrested 38 suspected pipeline vandals and cultists and recovered 120, 000 litres of petrol in Lagos within the last two months.
The Director of Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. John Agim, disclosed this to journalists at a news conference in Lagos.
He said the suspected pipeline vandals and cultists had been handed over to the appropriate security agencies for further investigation and prosecution.
“Operation AWATSE is a joint task forces under the control of defence headquarters participating in operation 777, an operation being conducted and operated simultaneously nationwide by the defence headquarters.
“Prior to the launch of operation 777 on Oct. 8, operation AWATSE had recorded successes, including the aforementioned criminal activities in the operation area.
“Some of the achievements include the arrest of 12 suspected pipeline vandals, three tankers, one trailer and seven vehicles.
“Also arrested were nine wooden boats which were destroyed instantly. Additionally, an estimated quantity of 120,000 litres of PMS valued at N17.4 million.
“This was illegally siphoned from vandalised Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) pipelines which was recovered,” he said.
He, however, noted that the military was doing everything possible to also intensify its operation on other targeted area where pipeline vandalism on NNPC pipelines were located.
“Since the commencement of operation 777, operation AWATSE activities were intensified through extensive patrols to ensure that troops dominate the joint operation area.
“Currently operation AWATSE troops have dominated Festac, Ijedodo, ijagemo, Ishawo, Majidun and Arepo, while regular patrols are being conducted in areas left uncovered due to shortage of manpower.
“Since the commencement of operation 777, operation activities have been aimed at denying criminals freedom of migration and action and making of arrest where possible,” he said.
He said Operation AWATSE’s mandate was the protection of NNPC pipelines and infrastructure along the 72km stretch of pipelines from Atlas cove to Mosimi Depot.
“The mandate also cut across the conduct of operation against kidnapping, anti robbery and criminal activities including the security of Epe and Ogun state.
“Also the activities of the cultists, particularly the aiye and eye confraternities in Ikorodu and Shagamu area of Lagos and Ogun, respectively.
“Our activities also include patrols, ground and air recognisance, anti bunkery operations including show of force,” he said.
He said this operation had suppressed the activities of miscreants significantly and led to the arrest of suspected pipeline vandals, cultists and other criminals.
“Additionally, large volumes of petroleum product and other items have been recovered from vandals and oil thieves in areas such as Atlas Cove, Magboro, Ogijo, Isashi and Akute waterside.
“The intention is to maintain current tempo of operation to ensure the activities of miscreants are highly mitigated.
“It is worth mentioning that operation AWATSE has recorded tremendous achievement since the commencement of operation 777,” he said.