Akwa Ibom fishermen protest incessant attacks, abductions by pirates

The fishing community of Ibaka, Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom State on Monday protested against what it called ‘incessant attacks and abductions’ of its members by suspected Sea pirates in the state.

Organized under the auspices of ‘Watch Out Fishermen Cooperatives, the protesters mostly youths stormed the Ibaka beach, the venue of the protest as early as 10 am chanting solidarity songs and displaying placards of various inscriptions in the air.

Some of the inscriptions in placards read “Foward Operating Base, Ibaka is sleeping,” President Buhari, do the needful, we are tired of paying ransom”

“Federal government and Nigerian Navy stop the sea piracy.”

Addressing the protesters, the chairman of the association Mr Effiong Numah expressed concern that despite the insecurity along the waterways, state government and security agencies have remained adamant about their plights.

He explained that they decided to call out their members to protest because their lives are no longer safe on the waterways adding that this year alone they have lost over 23 Outboard engines while ten of their members have been kidnapped.

“We are here for a protest based on what we have been experiencing in the past years. After series of petitions and complaints to the Government, they paid deaf ears to our plights. That prompted us to organise this protest. This year alone our Cooperatives have lost 23 Outboard engines to the Sea pirates. They have kidnapped 10 of our fishermen, demanding huge sums of money”.

The Youth President of Ibaka, Mr Victor Udombo, in his remarks, lamented that the fishing business has been grounded to a halt adding that over one hundred out boat engines cannot go into the sea as a result of the activities of Sea pirates.

“We want the whole world to know that we are dying, we are always afraid of the unknown when you go to the beach, you will see over a Hundred boats aground, these boats can carry over thirty persons and since we have not been going to work over a thousand persons have been rendered jobless making criminality and armed robbery to become the order of the day because an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.

One of the fishermen, Mr Effiong Edet who spoke emotionally on the plights of the fishermen lamented that the hoodlums have adopted a new strategy adding when they seize an Out boat engine they will also kidnap the fishermen along with the engine.

According to him a director in one of the companies was kidnapped in April, this year and was only released after a ransom of N46m was paid to the hoodlums

He said “They first abducted fishermen from one company here and for fear of what their fate will be in the hands of the abductors we pleaded with them and they collected ransom. And this year, in April they followed our fisherman, up to Cameroon and abducted a director, and collected a ransom of N46m. That was when we down tool for about a month and two weeks.

“As we speak to you now we have petitioned AIG zone6, NNS Jubilee Ikot Abasi, we have petitioned Foward Operating Base here and all the security agencies and government agencies we feel can come to our help all to no avail”

” Last Tuesday they seized four engines and abducted four fishermen, demanding for 10million. We pleaded and after exhausting all our money only yesterday they released them, the person that we sent to go pay the ransom was withheld by kidnapers, so we pleaded for his release”

The lawyer representing the fishermen, Barr Oluwajuwon Ogunbiyi alleged that the hoodlums are people who are already known to the security agencies adding that they decided to call the attention of the world for people to see what they are going through in the Sea.

“The perpetrators are people known to security agencies because we submitted telephone numbers, bank accounts, that has been used to receive the ransoms and nothing has been done till now. Because people don’t know what is going on here

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