By OKOSUN DENNIS
The devil struck again yesterday at Arepo in Ogun state as pipeline vandals wiped out three naval officer and two remain missing.
As a result men of the Nigerian Navy have begun aggressive search for the missing officers in a bid to rescue them alive.
The shootout is came barely three weeks after the anti-pipeline vandalism Joint Task Force (JTF), raided the Wawa area of Arepo dislodging some pipeline suspects vandals in the process.
Yesterday’s attack is said to be a reprisal attack on the soldiers who have gained ground since the battle over control of the area started.
The bodies of the deceased naval personnel have since been recovered but two other bodies are still missing.
The JTF in an operation Codenamed Operation Awatse, is tasked with the responsibility of protecting the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines from Atlas Cove to Mosimi Depot.
In line with that mandate, the JTF, comprising the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army and the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), had launched series of attacks at the pipeline vandalism syndicate at the Wawa area of Arepo.
Soldiers on the operation had successfully launched an attack on the vandals, only for the vandals to regroup a day later and attack back.
During the raid by one of the soldiers fired a shot at the vandalized petroleum product causing a huge fire to engulf the entire area.
Following the raid the criminals had launched a reprisal attack against the security agents as they stormed the area again on Thursday night to continue their raid.
However, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Admiral Ralph Osondu said investigations were ongoing.
He said, “All I can tell you is that investigation is ongoing. I do not have the details and cannot tell you hearsay. I suggest you contact the DHQ because the operation is under them.
“All participating officers are personnel of the DHQ, they were drawn from other services and so, I cannot tell you whether it was navy, army, Airforce or police. Only the DHQ can authoritatively comment on this.”
Meanwhile, it would be recalled that in the previous raid made three weeks ago, the JTF had stormed the area and caught the vandals in the act as they tried to cart away the stolen products in three minivans and the waste disposal truck belonging to one Ganiu Ventures.