A fishing community under the auspices of ‘Watch Out Fishermen Coperative’ in Ibaka, Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom state on Monday raised alarm over persistent attacks and abductions by sea pirates on their waterways.
The fishermen said their sea is no longer safe for their businesses due to the abduction of members on a daily basis.
Newspot has reported the abduction of four fishermen in Ibaka last week including three Ghanaians and one Nigerian.
The victims were reportedly released on Sunday after a sum of Three Million, Five hundred thousand naira was paid as ransom.
Overwhelmed by the constant attacks, the fishermen in a peaceful protest under the scorching sun at the Ibaka beach, begged President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies to intervene.
The fishermen displayed placards with various inscriptions such as; FOB Ibaka is sleeping,’ ‘President Buhari, do the needful, we are tired of paying ransom, ‘Federal government and Nigerian Navy stop the sea piracy etc”
The group said the attack has brought untold pains and hardship to the fishermen.
Speaking while addressing the protesters, the Youth President of Ibaka Victor Udombo, 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.
“Our sea is no longer safe, we deserve security as a citizen. It is our right to have security and we are calling on the security, the Nigerian Navy, the marine police and every other security agencies to come to our aid and protect our territorial waters.”
Also speaking, the chairman of the association Effiong Etim Numah expressed disappointment that despite series of petitions, the state government and security agencies have remained adamant to their plights adding that this year alone they have lost over 23 Out boat 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 a deaf ear. That prompted us to organise this protest. this year alone our cooperative have lost 23 Out boat engines, to the Sea pirates. They have kidnapped 10 of our fishermen, demanding a huge amount of money.
“We have notified Government agencies security agencies, it was only one week that the Forward Operation Base carried out what they called major patrol and in that one week we had a little peace.
One of the fishermen Mr Effiong Edet lamented that the hoodlums have adopted a new strategy adding they would seize the Out boat engines and 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 payment of N46m as ransom. The challenge has got to the climax because they are now after our lives.
“They first abducted a fisherman 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 ransom of N46m. That was when we down our tools for about a month and two weeks.
“As we speak to you now we have petitioned AIG zone 6, NNS Jubilee Ikot Abasi, we have petitioned FOB 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 and pay the ransom they withheld him, so we are pleading for his release”
The lawyer representing the fishermen, 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 to what the community of fishermen are going through.
“The perpetrators are people known to security agencies because we submitted telephone numbers, bank accounts, that have been used to receive the ransoms and nothing has been done till now. Because people don’t know what is going on here that is why we decided to call the attention of the world to come to the aid of these fishermen.” he lamented.