The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that it had taken over the security of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines in the Lagos area, along with the Nigerian Navy, and craved the maximum cooperation of host communities.
Colonel Mustapha Anka, the Director, Army Public Relations, 81 Division of the Nigerian Army in Lagos, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Anka said the joint operation, code named: "Operation Awase," was set up to tackle the vandalism of the NNPC pipelines in Majidun, Ikorodu and other parts of the state.
He said the officers and men sighted by the communities around the pipelines were on legitimate duties.
"There is no illegality in the operation of our men in any part of Lagos.
We have since discovered that some people in some of the communities around the pipelines are part of the vandals," Anka said.
"Any member of the communities where we are operating, without any criminal intention, is free to engage in lawful activities. But vandals will now have no peace in Lagos State," the spokesman warned.
"We also solicit the cooperation of the host communities to give us information about the vandals," he said.
"We have been operating in the last eight months. The main task of the joint operation is to flush out vandals of pipelines in the Lagos area and its environs," Anka said.
The Army spokesman, however, did not mention Arepo area in Ogun State as part of their coverage areas.
NAN reported that men of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) were securing some of the pipelines in Lagos and Ogun states before their contract with the NNPC reportedly expired about a week ago.
Meanwhile, some security experts have hailed the deployment of the military to secure the pipelines.
Mr Charles Anyanwu, a security consultant, said issues relating to security should not have been taken away from the military.
He noted that giving such a responsibility to the ethnic militias was like making a mockery of the military, whose responsibility it ought to be.
Mr Jide Ageaga, the Head of Operations, Pendulum Security, also commended the Federal Government for terminating the contract with the militia.
"This is how terrorism starts. When you allow a militia group with no training whatsoever in the handling of weapons, to be in possession of arms and ammunition, we may not know exactly how it may end.
"We just hope the arms in their possession are being accounted for or withdrawn from them by the authority in charge so as to avoid any form of confrontation between the parties," he added.