As part of its effort to secure critical oil infrastructure in the country, the OPERATION AWATSE intercepted pipeline vandals at Arepo, while 10 of them were arrested, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
Rear Adm. Oladele Daji, the Commander of OPERATION AWATSE on Monday said that together with sister agencies and other security agencies, they were determined to get to the root of the syndicate.
“I assure the Nigerian public that the operation AWATSE, the military and other security agencies will continue to make sure that we discharge our responsibilities in a responsive and responsible manner,” he said.
He said that the vandalism was being carried out by influential and rich people.
Daji said that it was a highly sophisticated syndicate for them to have hired nine trucks, a grader and the procurement of a line of over three kilometres in length.
“This is a crime syndicate organised by rich and influential people considering the amount of money put in to carry out the operation.
“Considering the amount of money put into it, including the harding of the road from Forthright Garden Estate to where they were siphoning the fuel is about 1km.
“And the road was graded for this operation, even the grader is still here as part of the exhibit.
“It is a highly sophisticated syndicate to be able to hire nine trucks, a grader and the procurement of a line of over three kilometres in length, fooling everybody,” he said.
The Operation Commander appealed to Nigerians to continue to volunteer useful information, saying that all information would be confidential.
“I want to appeal to Nigerians to continue to volunteer useful information to us through the Operation AWATSE helpline and the website is active.
“We promise to keep every information given to us confidential that would lead to the arrest of those that are bent on sabotaging our quest for energy security so that they can face the full wrath of the law.
“We thank all those in the communities where the pipeline has transverse that have been cooperating and volunteering information to us,” he said.
Daji said that the NNPC maintenance team would fix the vandalised pipeline and that it was not going to affect the supply of petroleum products to various parts of the country.
He added that the trucks that would evacuate the recovered products would be sent in line with the standard operating procedure, saying that the trucks would be destroyed immediately.
Maj.-Gen. Godwin Umelo, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division that the operation intensified surveillance when it got information that the vandals would strike.
“Arepo is well noted for pipeline vandalism and we got information that the vandals would strike any moment from now so we intensified surveillance within the area to monitor them.
“In the early hours of today, we got information that vehicles were moving into the area and we directed our troops to move in which they did at about 5.30 am.
“(We) met them loading their trucks with the fuel. Because it was still very early and dark, some of the vandals escaped into the forest as a result of poor visibility.
“But we were lucky to have arrested ten of them, all males. Six vehicles were arrested with already loaded products while three were yet to load, while nine vehicles were arrested,” he said.
NAN reports that the incessant vandalism of the System 2B NNPC pipelines, made the Defence Headquarters in Dec. 21, 2019 to direct Operation AWATSE.
OPERATION AWATSE activated a clearance operation nicknamed KUROMBE to dislodge vandals from Atlas Cove and environ as well as remove all encumbrances from the NNPC Pipelines Right of Way from Atlas Cove to Mosinmi. (NAN)