The Lagos State Government on Tuesday inaugurated 20 patrol vehicles it donated to Operation AWATSE, a joint military task force against pipeline vandalisation and related criminal activities in the state.
Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode presented the Toyota Hilux vehicles to the task force during a ceremony at Western Naval Command in Apapa, Lagos.
Represented by the Commissioner for Special Duties, Mr Seye Oladejo, Ambode said the vehicles would enhance the effectiveness of OP AWATSE in ridding the state of criminal elements.
“The 20 units of patrol vehicles being inaugurated today can only serve to increase the effectiveness of logistics management in the deployment of service personnel in fulfilment of the mandate of Operation AWATSE.
“It is also to ensure internal security on our inland waterways, for the lives and properties of our people and investors, especially as we explore the vast opportunities for investment in the maritime sector,” he said.
He commended Rear Adm. Sylvanus Abbah, Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command and his men for their synergy with government and other security agencies. “This is to ensure adequate provision of security across the state including the hinterland and riverside communities.
“Our administration will continue to support all security agencies operating in Lagos State to ensure that we continue to provide adequate security for lives and properties of all residents and investors in the state,” he said. In his remark, Abbah thanked the state government for the gesture and called for more patrol boats and drones for the Navy and Air Force to enhance operation AWATSE.
“Operation AWATSE has come to stay and I believe that what we are enjoying in Lagos today is as a result of the collaboration between security agencies “In the history of Lagos State, we have been experiencing peaceful coexistence and the criminals know they cannot operate in this formidable environment,” he said.
Abbah also thanked the officers and men of operation AWATSE for their cooperation, urging them to keep the spirit up. “The civilians are your brothers and your job is to protect them.
“To the media and the public, if you suspect anyone not looking like a military personnel, please report to the nearest military formation around so that we can arrest the situation.
“The vehicles are kitted with communication gadgets, so be rest assured that you can sleep with your eyes closed and we are ever willing to serve you 24 hours,” he said.
The Chief of Defense Staff (CDS), Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, earlier in his welcome address, thanked the state government for its support to the military. Represented by Air Vice Marshal Olusoji Awomoju, the CDS said the state government’s support was to ensure that the nation’s territorial integrity and land resources were protected.
He said that the incessant siphoning of Premium Motor Spirit from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines, especially in Ikorodu area, by vandals, gave rise to launching of operation AWATSE.
“The operation was taken over by the Defense Headquarters and the initial mandate was the protection of NNPC pipelines and infrastructure along the 72 kilo metre stretch of pipelines from Atlas Cove to Mosimi Depot.
“This was expanded to include security of Epe and Ogun Waterside in Lagos and Ogun state as well as anti-kidnapping, anti-robbery and related criminal activities,” he said.
The CDS also said that operation AWATSE had brought sanity to its area of responsibility especially Majidun, which was a notorious transit route for criminals to other parts of riverine communities in Southwest Nigeria.