Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has ordered security agencies to apply appropriate force to clampdown on criminals, pipeline vandals, miscreants and cultists disturbing the peace of residents in the state.
The Governor who spoke on Tuesday, February 16, during a security inspection tour of Owutu, Ishawo, Oke Oko and other adjoining communities in Ikorodu West Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of the state, also warned criminals to stay off the streets of Lagos, saying that his government will stop at nothing to ensure the restoration of peace in the area, which had hitherto being disturbed by the activities of vandals and miscreants.
It would be recalled that the abduction of seven Department of State Security (DSS) operatives in the area sometime in October last year and other criminal activities of vandals necessitated Governor Ambode to request for a military/security operation in the area code named ‘Operation Awatse’
The Governor not only requested for the operation, but also briefed the President Muhammadu Buhari as well as the Chief of Defence Staff on the criminality going on in the area, after which they approved the military operation.
Thus, the visit by the Governor, who supported the military operation monetarily, was a follow up to boost the morale of the security forces and then see the possibility of opening up the road as a permanent solution to dislodging all criminal activities in that axis.
The Governor, who made a brief stop at the Little Palace Hotel, where vandals once used to plan and execute their criminal activities before it was taken over by a combined force of the Nigeria Army, Navy, Airforce, the DSS and the Police under the code name, ‘Operation Awatse’, expressed deep regret over the loss of three officers of the operation, assuring that his administration will give the force the necessary support to wage war against the vandals.
"I also want to commiserate with our security agencies most especially the Nigerian Navy for the loss of three men last week. I like to use this as a platform to give a very strong warning to vandals and even cultists that are parading themselves on the street of Lagos.
"Just recently, we heard that the fingers of some of our men in the Task Force were chopped off by some hoodlums so to speak. I'm using this platform also to direct our security forces that they should go ahead to use appropriate force in mitigating against such incidences next time and this is in the overall interest of all of us. While we make sure that we are upholding the rule of law. We would not fold our arms and allow some miscreants to disturb the peace of Lagos.
"If we sit down in our office, we would not be able to appreciate the extent of the problem here. People here have been living in fear in the past. We want permanent peace in the area and that is why we are coming after the vandals and criminals. Let me use this opportunity to warn criminals to get off the streets of Lagos and get off the creeks," he said.
The Governor while appreciating the officers whose presence in the area had reduced the activities of the vandals and hoodlums terrorising residents, said he will ensure that all necessary apparatus and welfare for the officers is made available to boost their morale in the line of duty.
"I have come here personally with the heads of security agencies in Lagos State and the Security Council members to firstly appreciate the work of security agencies that have been posted here since last October and to also commend you for the improvement we have made since the time that you commenced operation here.
“We like to reiterate once again our full commitment to support security agencies in eradicating vandalism and all sorts of vices from the street of Lagos. Beyond the fact that we are supporting the Nigerian Police, we are also now more than ever committed to support all the other security agencies in ensuring that they carry out their work more efficiently. So, my presence today underscores that fact that we all have to join hands together to ensure that the ugly scenes like this will not repeat itself," he said.
Earlier, Lt Col. Julius Ogbobe, Commanding Officer of the Operation Awatse, who briefed the Governor and his entourage on the operational base of his squad, said they dislodged the vandals from the Little Palace Hotel on October 10, 2015, which has since led to the recovery of over 2000 by 50 litres gallon of illegal products, 36 vehicles while 15 suspects were also arrested and handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for prosecution.
"Your Excellency, seeing you here in our midst will further serve as a boost to our moral and also give us hope that government will give us all that it takes and the support to go after the vandals in and within Arepo and the general areas of the Operation Awatse", Ogbobe said.
The Governor who also drove several kilometres to inspect the state of the road, said the plan of government is to link up the community with Arepo and Kara, expressing optimism that if the road network is accessible, it would go a long way to reduce the activities of vandals in the area.
He therefore promised to champion collaboration for the construction of a link bridge among Lagos, Ogun and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to ensure that Ishawo, Oke Oko communities is linked to Kara and Arepo via the creek.
Addressing community leaders and residents at a brief town hall meeting, said although his visit to the area was to access the security situation, he also took note of the need to open up the community so as to curtail the activities of pipeline vandals to the bearest minimum.
The Governor was also concerned about the complains of the residents on the lack of schools, healthcare centres and public infrastructure in the community and promised to build a new primary and secondary school in the area as well as provide a well equipped primary healthcare centre.