By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Over an alleged refusal by Akwa Ibom State Government to wade off incessant attacks by pirates on water ways, leading to loss of 35 engine boats in four months, fishermen in the state have threatened to shut-down markets on Monday October 24, 2022.
Fishermen, under the aegis of Ibeno Ghana Yoruba Fishermen Association (IBEGHAYO), said within four months, they have lost boats and other valuables worth millions of Naira to pirates whom they said, sometimes take them hostage for ransom.
Speaking with newsmen in Ibeno, the chairman of the association, Mr. Samuel Akpan, stated that the only security post, Mopol 29 which he said, usually provides security for fishermen, is shutdown due to lack of funding by the local government.
He disclosed that when the issue was brought to the local government chairman in 2021, he assured the association that once he receives tenement rate, he would purchase four 200 horse power engines and two speed boats for security officials to parade the sea, but failed to honour his promise.
“Let me tell you, we have been contributing money to provide security for ourselves but we are tired. We have it in good authority that money has been released to the local government in order to assist security but the chairman has refused to use the money.
“By Monday next week, we shall protest and ensure that activities in the area are completely crippled.” IBEGHAYO Chairman said.
Chief Samson Udoeka, Vice Chairman of the Association also recounted the level of suffering fishers in the local government were facing and appealed to government to help them.
“We want the world to know the level of suffering fishers in Ibeno are passing through because of pirates. They having been carting away our engines. Within four months, sea pirates have carted away 35 engines and even last two weeks, 8 engines boast were taken away.
“We have explained our situation to the local government chairman but he has shown no concern.
The chairman had promised to assist us because through us the economy of the LGA is booming. The chairman promised to give the security operatives stationed in the area 200 horse power engines and two speed boats for security to give us coverage.
“The security personnel we hired to protect us have no facilities to do so. We have reported this case to stakeholders of Ibeno, the DPO, Paramount Rulers and they have not acted. We are tired.
“We are telling the chairman that if there is no assistance for us before Monday, we shall shut down all the markets, water ways and cripple other activities within the local government area till help comes our way.”
Another fisher, Akpanika Samuel, who spoke said they are at a fix as nothing was working for them. He averred that fishing, their only source of livelihood, is threatened by pirates.
“Our problem as fishers borders on incessant attacks by pirates. Each time pirates come, they will cart away our engines and sometimes take us hostage to the point of we paying them to rescue ourselves.
“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 will be seized from us. The council chairman had promised that once he get tenement rate he would support us but till now nothing has been done.”
Monday Ogunyemi, a Yoruba man and member of Ibeno Ghana Yoruba Association, averred that since Special Police Squad were brought to give them coverage, they did not have any issue until the police engines got spoiled.
He appealed for help.
Efforts to reach Ibeno Local Government Council Chairman, High Chief Williams Mkpah for comments were not successful as he did not pick calls to his cell phone or respond to messages sent.