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Ibeno fish farmers under attack by sea pirates

By Ayoyinka Jegede, Uyo
23 October 2022   |   4:50 am
Fishermen in Ibeno Local Council of Akwa Ibom State, have deplored incessant attacks from sea pirates of late.

Fishermen on duty

Vows To Shutdown Govt Activities Tomorrow 

Fishermen in Ibeno Local Council of Akwa Ibom State, have deplored incessant attacks from sea pirates of late. 

 
Apart from the losses, they have incurred within the last four months, the fishermen have lost 35 engine boats to the criminals, who sometimes kidnap them for ransom.

The fishermen, under the aegis of Ibeno Ghana Yoruba Fishermen Association (IBEGHAYO), have, therefore, vowed to shut down markets and government activities tomorrow, Monday, October 24, 2022, over what they described as the government’s refusal to assist them in wading off the pirates’ attacks.
 
The chairman of the association, Mr. Samuel Akpan, said the only security post – MOPOL 29, which usually provides them with security has been shut down due to a lack of funding from the council. 
 
He disclosed that when the issue was brought to the council chairman in 2021, he assured them that once he receives the tenement rate, he would purchase four 200-horsepower engines, and two-speed boats for security officials to parade the sea, but up till now.

He claimed that after the chairman allegedly received the money, he not only reneged on his promise but has done nothing to halt attacks on the fishermen. 
 
“Let me tell you, we have been contributing money to provide security for ourselves, but we are tired. We have it on good authority that money has been released to the council local to assist in the provision of security, but the chairman has refused to use the money.
 
“By Monday, we shall protest and ensure that activities in the area are completely crippled,” the chairman said.
 
The vice chairman of the association, Chief Samson Udoeka, said that the level of sufferings the fishermen are undergoing was mindboggling and appealed to the government to come to their aid.

 
“We want the world to know the level of suffering that fishermen in Ibeno are passing through in the hands of sea pirates, who have been carting away our engines. Within four months, sea pirates have carted away 35 outboard engines. Last two weeks, eight engine boats were taken away.
 
“We have explained our situation to the council chairman but he has shown no concern. The security personnel we hired to protect us have no facilities to do so. We have reported this case to Ibeno stakeholders, the DPO, and paramount rulers who have all failed to act. We are tired. 
 
“We are telling the chairman that if we get no form of security assistance before Monday, we shall shut down all the markets, and waterways and cripple other activities within the council till help comes our way,” he said.
 
Another fisherman, Akpanika Samuel, averred that fishing, their only source of livelihood, was being threatened by pirates, whom he said sometimes kidnap them for ransom.
 
“Our problem as fishermen borders on the incessant attacks. Each time pirates come, they end up carting away our engines and sometimes take us, hostage, to the point of paying them to rescue us.
 
“Fishing is our only source of livelihood, but as it is now, we cannot even fend for ourselves any longer. We cannot go fishing again because each time we go out, our engines would be seized.
 
Monday Ogunyemi, a Yoruba man and member of the association said that since the special police squad was brought in to give them coverage, they were protected until the police engines got spoiled.
 

In his reaction, the council chairman, High Chief Williams Mkpah, said curbing attacks on fishermen was beyond his purview. 
 
The council boss said that he has written several letters to the state government on the issue, but without any response, or any effort aimed at curbing the attacks.
 
He identified his council’s poor financial situation and the high cost of speedboats, and outboard engines as factors impeding the fulfilment of his promise.