Gunmen suspected to be sea pirates on Tuesday attacked fishermen on the high sea and made off with their outboard engines off the coast of Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The incident happened barely 24 hours after the fishermen under the auspices WatchOut Cooperative Society in Ibaka protested the incessant attacks and abductions of their members in the state.
The fishermen had called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) and security agencies to save them from daily attacks by the sea pirates.
The lawyer representing some of the fishermen, Oluwajuwon Ogunbiyi, who spoke with our correspondent in Uyo on Wednesday, said that about 25 fishermen aboard the boats were stranded on sea because people were afraid to go for a rescue operation for fear of being attack.
Ogunbiyi said, “Last night, around 7pm, we got a report that the sea pirates attacked two board engines off the coast of Ibaka.
“Those people are now stranded on the waterways. About 20 persons were in the bigger boat, while the other one contained five people.“No one could go there that night for rescue operation for fear of being attacked. These fishermen are still stranded on the waterways.
“They seized their outboard engines and left them there and each outboard engine cost over N2.5m and I am not even sure that you will see any of these engines to buy in Nigeria.”
He attributed the frequent attacks on the fishermen to lack of sustained patrol by Naval operatives but commended the state commissioner of Police, Andrew Amiengheme, for providing a leeway out of the situation.
“The only reason these sea pirates attack the fishermen is because there is no patrol,” he said.
He called on the Forward Operation Base Ibaka to intensify patrols on the waterways in order to minimise incidence of attack and abduction of fishermen operating in the state.
When contacted, the Commanding Officer, Forward Operation Base, Ibaka, Capt. Abu, denied the allegations of lack of patrol on the waterways, saying, “I was at the sea yesterday and I only came back this morning. Any time you come here, we will tell you the efforts we have been making.”