Fishermen in Nigerian Waterways
Residents of fishing communities in Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, has protested against attacks and killings of fishermen and boat owners on waterways by suspected sea pirates.
The residents said the development has become a usual occurrence in the area such that it has endangered their business activities. It was gathered that security agents drafted to protect the waterways were incapacitated to salvage the situation as pirates seemed to have overpowered them.
Speaking to newsmen in Oron, a boat owner, Mr. Effiong Ating, said, “the robbery attacks on our fishermen and boat drivers were alarming these days.
“The situation makes me feel so sad. Even many of our people especially the youths are withdrawing from the fishing business because of the insecurity at the sea.
“Most of us pay for the boats in installments. And you can imagine the agony we experience when the sea pirates now waylay our boat drivers, collect the boats and even kill them”.
Also, the Village Head of Udua Assang community in Oron LGA, Chief Iniko Offiong, who addressed newsmen after the protest said, “the constant injustice by the militants has made it impossible for fishermen and boat owners to carry out their daily businesses.”
Offiong said that the killings have been going on over the years and that the waterways were no longer safe as security agencies no longer come to their rescue.
He said that the activities of the militants have affected the economic fortunes of the residents of the fishing communities.
“The harassment on the sea has been going on for many years. We no longer have peace and we are suffering from hunger because of boat owners and fishermen are scared for their lives.
Riverine Community in Akwa Ibom State
“The sea pirates do collect our boat, engines and other valuables which cost millions of naira. We have tried our best to put a stop to the harassment but to no avail. Many boat owners have been killed by sea pirates.
Also speaking, the President of Boat Owners Association, Mr. Samson Oluwasegun, disclosed that the militants not only killed boat owners but also kidnapped and raped women in the process.
He appealed to the security agencies posted to the affected riverine areas to set up strategic measures to ensure that the militants were caught and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.
“As I am talking to you, one of our drivers was killed last night by the militants and his body is still lying at Ibaka. They collected his boat and killed him. We are crying to the nation to come to our aid, we need help.
“I am a stranger here but I am given the opportunity to be the President of Boat Owners and that is why I am calling on security agencies to do something. Our women are scared.
We need a joint task force to rescue our men, women, and children because that is the only thing that can rescue us. It is beyond marine capacity.
“These militants came all the way from Bayelsa State and I know that some indigenes here are equally involved in carrying out this injustice. A thief can not come in without an indigene. The waterways are not safe,” he said.
One of the protesters and a crayfish seller, Mrs. Mmayen Ifiok, expressed displeasure over her inability to successfully carry out her business due to the activities of the militants.
Ifiok said “We have suffered a lot. Whenever we go to the fishing board, the militants would stop and collect our fishing boat, engine, money, and every other item we use in fishing.
“That is the reason we are crying out to the governments for help by sending security agencies that would protect us in the riverine area. We are tired because many of us have been killed by the militants.”