Sea pirates seize 50 outboard engines from fishermen in A’Ibom

Isaac Job, Uyo

Fishermen at Ibeno local government area of Akwa Ibom state have said that sea pirates have seized 50 outboard engines from them in the high sea after several attacks on them between December last year and April this year.

The fishermen comprising of Ijaw, Yoruba, Obolo and Ghanaians lamented that they have been robbed on daily basis and disposed of their outboard engines by the hoodlums.

Speaking with our Correspondent in Ibeno on Thursday, the leader of the fishermen Chief Gideon Ogungbemi said scores of their members had been kidnapped while others had been killed by the pirates in the sea.

Ogungbemi said the fishermen are afraid of sailing into the sea to catch fish hence are experiencing hardship.

According to him, they are helpless as security operatives at sea have refused to come to their aid.

“Our major problem is the issue of sea pirates. They have been unleashing mayhem on fishermen to the extent that we are no longer going to the sea. The situation is so bad Whenever fishermen go to the sea they confront you at gunpoint and seize your outboard engines.

“In March alone, that’s last month, fishermen lost about 30 pieces of outboard engines to the sea pirates. Just this month of April, they came again and dispossess the fishermen of about 20 pieces of outboard engines. Each engine is about N3 million.

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“This has been a recurring decimal. We have been facing this situation for the past 10 years. Some of the fishermen have been kidnapped and ransom demanded and paid. Most times we pay up to N500,000 for the sea pirates to release our engine to us”, Chief Ogungbemi said.

One of the victims, Mr Christopher Nathaniel said he was attacked by the hoodlums last Sunday and his engine seized.

“I was attacked on Sunday and my engine was stolen. The pirates gave me their phone number and asked me to call them and pay N500,000 to get my engine back which I have done”.

On security, he said, “There are quite a number of Marine policemen and navy operatives on the sea. They are protecting oil company facilities and their workers and have never helped us when we are attacked”.

The State Police Command through its spokesperson, SP Odiko MacDon confirmed the incidents of attacks on fishermen by sea pirates.

MacDon disclosed that the police have always collaborated with other security agencies especially the Navy to intercept the hoodlums.

He explained that the police had rescued over 28 victims and recovered their engines while 10 suspected sea pirates had been arrested and currently facing prosecution.

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