Fresh plans are underway by the Nigerian military to launch a major offensive against militants at Ijedodo, Warewa and other new enclaves.
It was gathered that the miscreants who were in July dislodged from Ishawo, Elepete and Arepo creeks relocated to those new enclaves from where they kidnap and rob residents of Lagos and Ogun states.
As the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would soon resume pumping of petroleum product from Atlas Cove to Mosimi, Chairman, Operation AWATSE, Rear Admiral Fergusson Bobai, said nothing would be left to chance.
During an on-the-spot assessment of the jerrycans evacuation exercise being coordinated by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) at Ishawo creek, Bobai said the military would also embark on aggressive patrols of the waterways.
Aside the planned operation, Bobai said the swam buggies were also opening up the waters around Festac for easy access of the small boats newly acquired by the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas.
He said: “As of Friday evening, we had on record 53,000 of 50 litres jerrycan from creeks around Ishawo. That was made possible by the grace of the governor, who provided swam buggies to clear the creeks
to enable LASEMA pull out these jerrycans.
“As you saw when we got here, there were about three or four waves of jerrycans coming in under the protection of army, navy and other security forces. There are a lot of jerrycans all over the place.”
On new militants’ hideout in the state, Bobai said the military was aware and ready to take them on.
“We are aware that the militants are returning and we are ready to take them on. Very soon, petroleum products would be pumped from Atlas
Cove to Mosimi. That would pose new challenge for us because when we
embarked on this operation at that time, petroleum products were not
being pumped and some of them who were out of business started kidnapping.
“We are going to come in massively to ensure these miscreants are kept at bay. We are making progress to dislodge the miscreants from Ijedodo. We have sought permission from the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to deploy the might we used to clear Ishawo and Elepete at Ijedodo and we are awaiting his response.
“Once he gives the go ahead, an offensive would be launched in that area to keep the miscreants away.
“We are aware some of the gas stations patronise these vandals and we have recommended to the government that the appropriate agency should deal with those filling stations. You can see the lineup of jerrycans here. If you begin to talk about 53,000 50 litre kegs by 50 by 145 by 20 years they have been thriving in the business, that’s a lot of money. So, we have done our own and would continue to do our best.
“As a military officer, I was instructed by the CDS, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, to remove the shanties and dislodge the miscreants, which we have done and handed over to LASEMA.
“Honestly, LASEMA has not seen sleep in the last two months. With the swam buggies provided by the governor, they have been working here day and night to mop up the jerrycans and other items left here by the vandals. We are just supporting LASEMA to ensure that they clean up the area.”
On what the government would do with the jerrycans, LASEMA’s General Manager, Adeniyi Tiamiyu, said they would be sold to recycling companies.
He supported the residents’ call for a link bridge and active maritime environment, noting that it would be impossible for criminals to hide in the swarms if the waterways were accessible.
He said: “We would dispose the jerrycans for recycling. It would be dangerous and unethical to burn them around here. So, we have been given the mandate to take them out of here, which is what we would do.
We would sell them to recycling companies.
“Our concern is to bring out all remnant of their equipment inside thecreeks. I have gone into the creeks for three hours and I have observed that there are quite a lot of jerrycans still inside the place, all stringed together. Our job is to ensure the job we have been given is done.
“We do not have the capacity of the terrain to do it, so we engaged the locals. Quite a lot of them are inside the creeks and everyday they bring out kegs and we puncture them.
“As a government, we would ensure the vandals don’t return. I am sure the military won’t leave here until they are sure the vandals won’t return. We must commend the Nigerian military for doing a great job here.
“We spoke to some of the community members and they attested that they were under siege before. That they saw young boys carrying guns but couldn’t do anything. Some of the residents were killed, others maimed. So, to them, it’s a big relief the military came in.
“Another important thing I must tell you is that the whole place is ruined. There are a lot of security check points here too. The bombardment was done without a single member of the community dying.
It was done with military precision.
“The community has requested for a link bridge between here and the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, they have also requested that the state should open up the waterways for marine activities. I am sure if it is opened up, it would be difficult for anyone to stay here and carryout nefarious activity. So, our plan is that at the end of the exercise, we would do a report to government, state our observation and make recommendations.”