Pirates attack fishermen in Ibeno
…steal more than 40 boat engines in two months
Fishermen in Ibeno said their source of livelihood have been cut – off with the resurgence of pirates on the waterways.
Fishermen who spoke to Times Dispatch said more than 40 boat engines have been stolen from them by pirates in the last six weeks.
“In some of the attacks the pirates demand ransom of N150,000 to N200,000 in exchange for each engine they steal from us”, fishermen at Ibeno fishing terminal said.
Corroborating the attack, Isaac Jeremiah Akpe, the youth secretary of Okoroitak, one of the mangrove swamp communities in Ibeno, said fishermen from Okoroitak have lost 20 boat engines between November and last weekend to pirates.
Akpe reported that the boat engines stolen include 15hp, 25hp, and 40hp, adding that the least boat engine forcefully taken from fishermen by the pirates cost about N550,000.
“They are operating almost everyday since last last month (November). The attacks are rampant this December. From our record, the pirates have robbed and stolen 20 different boat engines from the people of Okoroitak. They have also robbed other fishermen. You can verify.”
“They have stolen different sizes of engines, and each of the engines cost more than half a million. For example, 25hp boat engine is sold for N500,000 and N600,000. And 40hp engine cost more than one million Naira. This what the poor fishermen have lost.”
Most of the fishermen procure their boat engines on a hire purchase arrangement, Times Dispatch learnt.
Akpe said one of those whose engine was stolen paid a ransom of N110,000 to the pirates to get back his engine.
“When the pirates take your engine, they will give you a phone number to call and get it back within a stipulated deadline upon payment of a ransom, usually more than N100,000. Those who can not afford the ransom have their engines seized perpetually.”
The youth secretary told Times Dispatch that the pirates have maimed and injured some fishermen in the cause of their operations, giving the name of one of those injured as Asuquo Etim Mfon.
“Apart losing their boat engines, more than six fishermen have been injured by the pirates. One of them is Asuquo Etim Mfon, he was admitted at Cottage Hospital, Ukpenekeng. Another person was admitted at a private hospital in Mkpanak.”
He said the pirates rob at night and early in the morning.
“From the cases reported to us, the pirates rob at night when the fishermen have gone to cast their nets, while others were robbed early in the morning as they are coming back home. When they take away your engine, your boats or canoe will be left at the mercy of the ocean tide. The tide can toss your boat for more than four hours before help comes”.
Akpe and other residents of Okoroitak have decried what they call “weak security presence” on the waterway, saying that the special patrol team, ‘Asawana mopol’ has not shown much concern in contending the pirates.
“The Asawana mopol do not patrol into the deep sea where those pirates rob our fishermen. The mopol only patrol in the creeks”, he added.
The prices of seafood, particularly fish and crayfish may jump up because of the attacks.