03 November 2013, Lagos – Fishermen resident in fishing settlements in Mbo council of Akwa Ibom have decried attacks by sea pirates, whom they claimed stole their clothes, outboard engines, and money.
Fishermen at Ibaka in Mbo local government, told newsmen yesterday that the robbers chased them away from their fishing areas and settlements.
The affected settlements are Ute Bramah, Okposo, Atabong, Mbughu Unyenge, Afia Ndite, Mbeng Ndonro and Inua Abasi, Mr Kenneth Okon, a victim, said the activities of the sea pirates and militants in the suburbs had made the areas dangerous for indigenes and residents.
Okon said they had been living in constant fear of the sea pirates for some months now.
According to him, the pirates, who used to operate only in the high seas, are now coming to the communities.
“They shoot and maim at the slightest provocation.
“You dare not tell them you don’t have money, fish, clothes, or refuse to reveal where you keep your outboard engines, when they come visiting, else you risk losing your life to the pirates, who are armed to the teeth.
“Now, we are at home. What are we going to do at home? We did not go to school.
“The only way we earn our living is through fishing. If we do not go to seas, how can we feed our children and send them to schools,” he said.
Okon appealed to security agencies in the state to come to their aid and ensure adequate protection in the sea.
“We need security in our settlements. As citizens of Nigeria, if at all, we are not entitled to any other thing; we at least, must be entitled to security of our lives and property.”
Another fisherman at Mbughu Unyenge, Mr Edidem Ekong, said: “the pirates or militants harass, maim, and steal with impunity because they know nobody will challenge them.”
Ekong appealed that the security system should also cover the creeks and other settlements in the rural areas.
“If you don’t provide security to your citizens in all parts of the country, you are leaving them vulnerable to other Republics,” Ekong said.
In his reaction, the acting Police Public Relations Officer, Akwa Ibom Command, Mr John Patrick, refuted the complaints of the fishermen.
Patrick, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, said the command had a marine unit stationed in the area to check the activities of the pirates.
He added that the fishermen had not made any official report of a recent attack.
The police image maker gave an assurance that the command would continue to ensure that the creek was safe for business.