..Seize 7 outboard engines, injure fishermen
By Ofonime Honesty
Economic activities in the riverine communities of Akwa Ibom State have once again been dealt a blow as suspected sea pirates, on Thursday, launched attacks on the rivers of Oron and Mbo Local Government Areas, seizing a combined total of 7 outboard engines and carting away freshly-caught fishes and other valuables in the process.
4 engines were seized in Oron while 3 were at Ibaka in Mbo, according to the affected fishermen, who narrated their plight to our correspondent. They decried that pirates have continued to wreak havoc on their business despite persistent calls for security to be beefed up in their localities. They also complained that as experienced during previous attacks, the pirates met no resistance from naval operatives stationed at Oron and Mbo.
Furthermore, they revealed that due to high cases of privacy, most of them have deserted the waters, a situation that has crippled economic activities in the area. The fishermen also alleged that each of them pays the sum of 15,000 Naira per month to the militants, decrying that despite the payment they are still being targeted by the same militants. One of them however alleged that the attacks are mostly launched from the Ijaw part of the Niger Delta region, and further accused some Ijaws living in Oron and Mbo of serving as informants to the pirates.
They called on the state government and traditional rulers to hearken to their numerous pleas for security. In recent months and years, the fishing and transportation businesses in the riverine communities have been affected by the activities of the pirates.
The pirates usually demand for and collect ransom for some of the seized engines. In some instances, they however sell the engines in other states in Nigeria, or in neighbouring countries.
Each engine is said to be worth between 6 million Naira to 8.5 Million Naira while a fairly used one goes for about 3 Million Naira depending on the horsepower rating.
Akwa Ibom State and some states in Nigeria depend on sea products from the riverine parts of the state. When contacted, naval spokesperson, Lieutenant Dike declined to comment on the matter.