By Benjamin Omoike
The Lagos State Government has clarified its position on the eviction of some residents of Tarkwa Bay, a beachside community recently by the Nigerian Navy.
The move has since generated public outcry and sympathy for the evicted residents, with Lagosians condemning the act by the Navy.
However, in a statement released by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, he defended the action of the Navy, stressing that based on intelligence reports, the action was taken in national interests, as pipeline vandals, had allegedly taken over the seaside community.
He said: “The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to the outcry that trailed the eviction of residents of a beachside community at Tarkwa Bay by the Nigerian Navy. The Nigerian Navy says the dislodgement followed the discovery by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), that pipeline vandals had taken over Tarkwa Bay to sabotage the Nation’s economy by stealing petroleum products for selfish and personal gains.
“According to Navy Commander Thomas Otuji, the Navy found in Tarkwa Bay about 300 spots and pits where petroleum products were being tapped and sold to unlicensed individuals as well as neighbouring countries. He emphasised that the trend is dangerous for people living in Tarkwa Bay, which has oil pipelines that run through the Lagos coastline.
“In fact, Atlas Cove Jetty, a major installation of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation for receipt and distribution of petroleum products to the western part of Nigeria and located within the precincts of Tarkwa Bay in Lagos, has become notorious for economic sabotage.”
Omotosho said reports indicate that in 2019, the Navy apprehended oil vandals carrying 1400 jerry cans of petrol, 27 drums and five outboard engine boats worth over N20million at the location. He added that it is estimated that the country loses petroleum products in excess of N4billion on a daily basis to oil theft.
He added that with the recent experience of destruction of property in Abule-Egba by individuals and groups who chose to endanger the lives and property of residents through their illicit trade, the Lagos State Government will support every step taken to crush, according to him, the distasteful and irresponsible behaviour of vandals who pilfer the country’s commonwealth and endanger the lives of others.
“It is unfortunate that artisans, fishermen, residents and surfers who engage in legitimate business in Tarkwa Bay failed to draw the attention of law enforcement agencies to the unlawful racket of oil thieves until the Nigerian Navy dislodged occupants of the coastline community. Reports indicate that a number of those engaged in oil theft are non-Nigerians; they are illegal immigrants.
“Although the Lagos State Government was not part of the eviction, the government is engaging all stakeholders to ensure that the rights of those legally permitted to reside in Tarkwa Bay are not violated,” he said.