The Acting Director, Defence Information (DDI), Brig Gen John Agim on Tuesday in Lagos cautioned journalists against damaging reports about he military in the Northeast, saying that such negative reportage has a way of creating fears in the minds of troops before deployment.
Briefing journalists at the Officers Mess of the Western Naval Command, Apapa, on the activities of Operation Awatse, Gen Agim noted that since the launch of Operation 777 on 8 October 2018, OP AWATSE had made tremendous achievements in busting pipeline vandals.
They also curtailed Eiye and Aiye cult groups at Ikorodu in Lagos and Shagamu in Ogun state respectively, as well as intensified extensive patrol and dominated FESTAC, Ijeododo, Ijagemo, Isawo, Majidun, Arepo, Elepete and Imagbon.
He also said that regular patrols are being conducted in other areas left uncovered due to shortage of manpower.
Gen Agim further reiterated that “the only way we can appreciate the job the military is doing is to appreciate them in your reports. Therefore, we must present reports as citizens of Nigeria because information is most important when it comes to reporting terrorism or insurgency.
“Some of your reports are assisting Boko Haram indirectly. If there are some allegations against the military about the ongoing war against terrorists, you can investigate before reporting it except you don’t want this war to end.
He noted that since the commencement of Operation 777, Operation AWATSE has denied criminals freedom of action and migration, and have made several arrests of suspected pipeline vandals, cultists, robbers and other criminals.
“In addition, large volumes of petroleum products and other items which included the arrest of 12 suspected pipeline vandals, three tankers belonging to NNPC and Forte Oil, one trailer belonging to Dangote Group of companies, and seven vehicles.
“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 have 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.
“Also arrested were nine wooden boats,” which according to Gen Agim have been destroyed.
It was learnt that those items were recovered from vandals and oil thieves at Atlas Cove, Magboro, Ogijo, Akute-Odo, Isashi Akute, Ogijo and Akute Waterside.
Assuring that the intention is to maintain the current tempo of operations in the Joint Operations Area (JOA), added that the activities of miscreants would be highly mitigated.
On alleged aiding and abetting of vandals by NSCDC and NNPC staffs, Brig Gen Agim explained that such allegations are been investigated by those agencies with a view to ascertaining its personnel’s involvement.
It would be noted that Operation AWATSE is one of the 7th Joint Task Forces under the control of Defence Headquarters participating in Operation 777, an operation also being conducted and coordinated simultaneously nationwide by the Defence Headquarters.
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.
Brig Gen Agim, however applauded the tremendous support of His Excellency, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, the Executive Governor of Lagos State who acquired eight brand new 2018 Toyota Hilux vehicles out of the 20 vehicles recently acquired to enable Operation AWATSE consolidate on its achievements.