Fishermen in Akwa Ibom State Call for Urgent Government Intervention as Sea Pirates Seize Over 50 Outboard Engines in 4 Months

Fishermen in Akwa Ibom State Call for Urgent Government Intervention as Sea Pirates Seize Over 50 Outboard Engines in 4 Months

Fishermen in Akwa Ibom State are calling on the government to intervene in the increasing attacks by gunmen suspected to be sea pirates in the Ibeno Local Government Area of the state. The frequent attacks have left the fishermen afraid of going to sea for fishing expeditions.

According to the fishermen, the hoodlums have seized no fewer than 50 pieces of their outboard engines between December 2022 and April 2023. The fishing business in the area is gradually being crippled by the constant attacks.

Chief Golden Ogungbemi, a fisherman and leader of the Yoruba community in Ukpenekang community, lamented that sea pirates have been unleashing mayhem on fishermen. He stated that the situation is so bad that fishermen are no longer going to the sea. The pirates confront the fishermen at gunpoint and seize their outboard engines. In March alone, the fishermen lost about 30 pieces of outboard engines to the sea pirates, and just this month of April, they dispossessed the fishermen of about 20 pieces of outboard engines. Each engine is worth about N3 million.

This has been a recurring problem for the past 10 years, and some of the fishermen have been kidnapped and ransom demanded and paid. Most times, they pay up to N500,000 for the sea pirates to release their engine. The fishermen are now calling on the state government to save their business.

One of the victims, Mr Christopher Nathaniel, recounted his experience when the hoodlums attacked him on Sunday and seized his engine. They gave him their phone number and asked him to call them and pay N500,000 to get his engine back, which he did.

On security, Mr Nathaniel stated that there are quite a number of Marine Policemen and Naval operatives on the sea, but they are only protecting oil company facilities and their workers and have never helped the fishermen when they are attacked.

The State Police Command, through its spokesperson, SP Odiko MacDon, confirmed the incident of attacks on fishermen by sea pirates. MacDon, however, disclosed that the police had always collaborated with other security agencies, especially the Navy, in intercepting the hoodlums. He added that the police had rescued over 28 victims and recovered their engines while 10 suspected sea pirates had been arrested and currently facing prosecution.

The government must urgently intervene in this matter to save the fishing business in the state. The fishermen need assurance that they can go about their business without fear of attacks from sea pirates. The government should provide adequate security for the fishermen, and the security operatives on the sea should not only protect oil company facilities and their workers but also the fishermen who are an essential part of the state’s economy.



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