…arrests 11 pipeline vandals
By OKOSUN DENNIS
The Chairman, Joint Task Force (JTF) ‘Operation Awatse’ said in Lagos on Monday that they have identified four targets and would sustain aerial bombardment against pipeline vandals which began last Thursday in Arepo.
Rear Admiral Ferguson Bobai, who is also the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, disclosed that they have been able to smoke out 11 notorious pipeline vandals due to the on-going aerial bombardment of the Arepo creeks in Ogun State.
He explained the decision to sustain the aerial bombardment, was to ensure that the four key targets gotten on the surveillance videos are knocked out using precision attack on registered targets.
In an after battle assessment of the onslaught against the criminals in the creeks and mangroves of Ishawo in Ikorodu and Igando areas of Ojo both in Lagos State; Arepo, Awawa, Elepete and Ibafo areas of Ogun State, the debriefing were attended by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Major General Isidore Edet; the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Air Force Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Sani Ahmed and the Commander, Nigerian Army 9 Brigade, Brigadier General Sani Mohammed.
Others security agencies include the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni; the Commandant, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Tajudeen Balogun; and the Director, Department of State Security Services.
It was learnt that the aerial bombardment, surveillance and reconnaissance were being carried out under the directive of Logistics Command, who coordinates and guides the air component of the entire exercise.
Admiral Bobai revealed that surveillance videos obtained by the NAF Beachcraft (NAF 202), showed that the vandals were heavily armed and they had mounted GPMG on gunboats while they blocked all the channels and routes with trees.
It was also learnt that the army component, the NSCDC, police and DSS have blocked their Access through the land, while the other exit points on the water, especially the Abeokuta, Ishawo, Igando exit points have been blocked by the navy.
Rear Admiral Bobai said, “The NAF over the weekend used their Alpha Jets and helicopters to identify the targets and so, we had to call all the agencies involved to do an after battle assessment.
“We have watched the video that the racking aircrafts have captured and we are convinced that there is need to sustain the operation. So, we are going to sustain and continue to mob up the ground as the NAF use their air power to neutralise some other areas.”
Bobai used the opportunity to refute some claims being circulated that over 100 casualties have been recorded in the operation, insisting that even the military has not completely entered the creeks because it was not easily accessible.
“I have consistently told you that the terrain is not that easy to access. As far as we are concerned, we are yet to enter the place to ascertain the number of casualties. After using some of their surveillance air craft to carry out reconnaissance of the areas since Thursday, the Nigerian Air Force pilots were at the Logistics Command today to brief us.
“Through the surveillance gathered, we identified four key targets, which we believe when knocked off, will set confusion in the militants’ and vandals’ camp.
On the millions of kegs containing the stolen products, which were sighted in the surveillance videos, he said they will set it ablaze because the terrain is too difficult to bring them out.
He said, “We will set them ablaze because it’s not easy to recover any of the stolen petroleum products stored in jerry cans in the creeks. There is no need going into task that will be fruitless.”