The Nigerian Armed Forces through a joint task force has launched Operation Secured Line, a maritime offshoot of Operation Awatse to curb pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft.
The operation was inaugurated on Friday, by the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Mustapha Hassan, at the Forward Operating Base, Tarkwa Bay.
It was gathered that the operation was launched to rejig and reactivate surveillance to safeguard the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited’s pipeline from Atlas Cove to Ijegun, which had been shut down for three months after it was vandalised.
Present at the flag-off was the Commander NNS BEECROFT, Kolawole Oguntuga, who also doubles as Maritime Component Commander; Fleet Commander, Western Naval Command, Victor Choji; Land Component Commander, Brigadier Adegoke Adetuyi; Air Component Commander, Olasunkanmi Abu; WNC Operations Officer, NS Lakan; Head, Anti Vandal, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, AJ Musa; as well as a representative of the Department of State Security Services and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited.
Speaking during the inauguration, the FOC said, “The Nigerian Armed Forces through Op AWATSE and the NN via the Anti-Pipeline vandalism efforts have made appreciable progress in curbing pipeline sabotage and crude oil theft.
“However, despite implementing measures and initiatives, pipeline vandalism and theft of petroleum products is still being perpetrated, especially where the pipeline traverses remote areas.
“I stand before you today with a deep sense of purpose as we embark on a crucial mission, the commencement of Operation ‘Secured Line,’ an Initiative aimed at curbing pipeline vandalism in Lagos and Ogun States.
“This operation is a testament to our commitment to ensuring the uninterrupted flow of refined petroleum products and, by extension, the economic prosperity of our great nation.”
The FOC warned that the thieves who seek to disrupt the operation will face stringent measures, adding that they would regularly review the operation progress to ensure effectiveness and address challenges hindering the desired goal.
In another development, the FOC disclosed that the NN thwarted over 500 kegs of PMS theft in the Badagry area of Lagos state, in the early hours of Friday.
He said, “We launched Operation Water Guard just this Thursday and around 2.35 am on Friday we arrested about three boats having 500 jerrycans, each containing 50 liters of suspected Premium Motor Spirit.
“The vandals or saboteurs decided to tweak their plan a bit. Since we are dominating the Badagry area, they decided to go seawards to circumvent the Badagry forces.
“But the quick reactions team planted all around the Badagry coast to the Epe axis and the use of electro-optical devices and air assets yielded results.
According to the FOC, the thieves jumped into the water on seeing the navy.
He also revealed that “some confiscated products were discovered in houses in Badagry, housing vulnerable populations, leading authorities to issue stern warnings instead of immediate destruction.
“The perpetrators, upon detecting the patrol team, evaded capture by jumping into the water. Due to legal constraints, the team refrained from using force while the suspects were swimming.
“We will continue to arrest. Once they know that we are serious, they might want to explore other avenues perhaps the land borders. I have spoken to the General Officer Commanding 81 Division about that possibility and we will still take action against them.”
Hassan further urged fuel station authorities in Badagry to enhance monitoring and prevent the sale of stolen products.
He however emphasized the difficulty of community-based intelligence in Badagry due to widespread involvement in illicit activities.
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