Nigerian Navy Monitors Pipelines Using UAVs (Drones)

November 15: The Nigerian Navy (NN) on Thursday said drones [unmanned aerial vehicles; UAVs] and helicopters have been deployed for surveillance of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines from Atlas Cove, Apapa to Ejigbo and Mosimi depots in Lagos and Ogun states.

This deployment, the service said, was to beat pipeline vandals who loot petroleum products from ruptured pipes and then find ways to smuggle them out of the country.

Already, 33,000 empty jerrycans 328 others filled with products have been recovered from makeshift structures at Kopigame Village, located about 10 minutes away from NNPC’s facility in Atlas Cove.

It was gathered that pipeline vandals who usually smuggled their loots in tankers through the land borders have suffered setback since the federal government ordered border closure and warned that gas stations close to such borders should not be supplied petroleum products till further notice.

With this directive, it was gathered that the criminals resorted to warehousing their loots in shanties within Atlas Cove hoping to get a window to ferry them out through the waterways.

Leading journalists on tour of the village Commmdant NNS BEECROFT Commodore Ibrahim Shettima said the aerial surveillance was sanctioned by the Naval Headquarters following Intelligence report on clandestine activities by vandals.

According to Shettima, Close Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV) on the machines showed several thousands of jerrycans carefully stockpiled in wooden shacks at Kopigame Village.

“With the video we obtained from the drones, I ordered the deployment of naval operatives to raid the area. During the operation, over 33000 empty plastic Jerry cans and 328 Jerry cans already loaded with petrol were recovered.

“About 32 wooden shacks used by the vandals as hideouts were destroyed. From the look of things, it is obvious that the vandals intended  to smuggle the products stolen from NNPC facilities to countries like Benin Republic, Togo and Cameroon where it will be sold. Petroleum products are costlier in those countries.

“NNS BEECROFT had in the past handed over 20 to 25 persons and about 15 vehicles seized to different prosecuting agencies,” he said.

The Commander said the operation would be sustained warning villagers and fishermen to not allow themselves be used by criminals bent on sabotaging the country’s economy and wellbeing.

“Anyone found to be involved would have his or her home destroyed and the person will be prosecuted,” he warned.

Source: The Nation Online / Precious Igbonwelundu

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