The joint taskforce (JTF) comprising of the Nigeria Navy, Air Force and Army, on thursday launched Operation Jagunlabi, a show of force, on the Lagos backwaters to combat the increasing menace of pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft.
The exercise, which is an offshoot of the ongoing Operation AWATSE (an Hausa word for scatter), was kicked off to further solidify the gains of the JTF in battling vandalism and crude oil theft in Lagos creeks and backwaters.
The exercise, which was kicked off by the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Slyvanus Abbah, at the naval outpost in Majidun area of Ikorodu, saw the JTF patrol both the waters and the land around that area.
Abbah was joined by the Air Officer Commanding, Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Yahaya; the General Officer Commanding, Major General Peter Dauke and the Commander, NNS Beecroft, Rear Admiral Maurice Eno.
The maritime operation kicked off from Majidun creek and saw the apenal gunboats patrol to Ebute waterside, Ibeshe ferry jetty and moved to Oworonsoki jetty before heading back to the base.
For the patrol route for the show of force, the ground forces also took off from Majidun and stormed the Ikorodu garage roundabout, Ibeshe junction, Ibeshe Ilaje, Imota, Ishawo and rendezvoused back at the naval outpost.
Not ruling out aerial bombardment by the AirForce if need be, the FOC said the joint patrol means the three arms of services will pull resources and manpower together to tackle the menace of pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft.
Harping on the importance of intelligence gathering, Abbah who addressed the troops before the exercise began said they are to mix up with civilians in order to get them to loosen up.
He said, “Operation AWATSE has been an on- going operation and if you are in Lagos I think this is the most peaceful festive period you have ever had in Lagos.
“We have been working tirelessly before now. Before now, you know the criminals have been carrying out their nefarious act at the high sea; which is sea robbery.”