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Ibaka: How pirates turned a bustling fishing community to a ghost town



Ibaka town reduced to a ghost town by criminal sea pirates

Ibaka was one of the busiest fishing communities and seafood markets in Southern Nigeria. Today, it is a stark opposite of its former self courtesy of pirates.

The fishing community is in present-day Mbo Local Government Area in Nigeria’s southern state of Akwa Ibom.

However, it has literally become a ghost town and under the suffocating grip of daredevil militants and sea pirates.

Diaspora Digital Media (DDM) confirmed that fishermen have downed tools in protest following seizure of about 14 outboard engines by militants in the past week.

The strike action has gone into its third day.

Following the seizure, leaders of the fishermen’s union approached their members as usual, seeking to collect ransom for the militants.

But the affected fishermen have refused to pay up, insisting that the leadership of the union be investigated by security agencies over links with the criminals.

The fishermen, at times, pay as much as two million naira as ransom for each seized outboard engine.

The outboard engines of the fishing boats are sometimes sold by the militants to awaiting customers in the creeks.

Sea pirates roaming the waters of Ibaka town

Sea pirates roaming the waters of Ibaka town

A used outboard engine now sells for about 7 million naira, according to a fisherman (name withheld).

Well, Ibaka’s plight remains a curious one. There seems to be more to the situation than meets the eye.

The glaring inability of naval personnel stationed at the terminal to combat the insecurity keeps eliciting suspicions.

A fisherman who preferred anonymity had this to say:

“Sometimes we receive information that the militants will come but when we inform the navy, they will do nothing about it.

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“They will not even fire a single gunshot to repel the criminals as they approach.

“We (fishermen) sometimes give them (naval personnel) tips (money) for things like recharge card, soap and food but they have not been protecting us.”

Another added: “The naval men always tell us to stop giving out information to journalists, that it is only the navy that has the right to address the press about insecurity in the area.”

Rumours of possible collusion between the naval personnel and the militants cannot be substantiated by DDM at this point.

In the meantime, though, there is strong claim that the militants work for some powerful politicians in the Niger Delta region.

Some Akwa Ibom politicians are also named as their sponsors.

Most political office holders in the state are always mute on the issue.

No condemnation, no visit to Ibaka and other affected fishing communities, no relief materials to victims, and most importantly no rallying of troops to combat the menace.

They seem to be allowing their “culpable colleagues” run the “business” in peace.

Very importantly, leaders of the fishermen’s union should be investigated and made to explain their relationship with the militants.

Security agencies too should come clean on their alleged role in aiding and abetting the issue.

Even traditional rulers have been accused of aiding and abetting the situation, hence their loud silence.

This has crippled economic activities, forced fishermen and their families into hunger and hopelessness and posed danger to lives and properties in the area.

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Aside from this, the situation also poses great danger to the entire state as the state’s internal security is threatened.

The Ibaka Sea is now a porous corridor which can be used as launchpad for a large-scale attack on the entire state.

It can as well be used for human and drugs trafficking.

The Ibaka waters empty into Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and other neighboring countries.

The territorial integrity of Akwa Ibom State and Nigeria should therefore be protected without compromise.

From occasional attacks of past years, things have now assumed a dizzying dimension.

The robbers now launch regularly raids, carting away monies, outboard engines and other valuables belonging fishermen, traders, residents and visitors.

Some of their missions become bloody as they do not hesitate to open fire on fishing boats that attempt to flee.

Security agencies should be alive to their responsibility of protecting lives and properties of the people in Ibaka.

The famous fishing community must be rescued from the hands of dare-devil criminals.

For Diaspora Digital Media Updates click on Whatsapp, or Telegram. For eyewitness accounts/ reports/ articles, write to: Follow us on X (Fomerly Twitter) or Facebook

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