Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Merchant Navy Raises Alarm Over Renewed Pirate Attacks

THE Fishing Zone of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association has raised alarm over renewed attacks on fishing trawlers, following in the weekend attacks on two vessels in which a sailor was killed last weekend.

Speaking to Vanguard on the recent attacks, the Administrative Secretary of the group, Comrade Kingsley Enahoro, said that despite the amnesty granted to militants by the Federal Government, attacks on fishing trawlers have not abated.

Enahoro disclosed that vessels which were attacked around the Debuja area of Cameroon are 'FT Olokun 4' and 'FT Kulak 7', while the deceased seafarer's name was given as Etim Benjamin.

He stated that the group records an average of six attacks on a monthly basis, adding that about 40 attacks on fishing trawlers have been recorded since the beginning of this year.

Enohoro also noted in a statement that the attacks have almost become a daily occurrence just as the incessant harassment and death threats have constantly put the lives of seafarers on the line.

The statement reads in part: "The Executive and entire members of the fishing zone of the Nigeria Merchant Navy want to bring to the notice of the Federal/State Government as well as the International community and the General Public of the threat and killing suffered by sailors as a result of the insurgence of sea pirates in the Nigeria/Cameroon waters.

"They daily attack fishing trawlers disposing them of all their monies, food and personal effect. This trend has taken a dangerous dimension as the unrepentant militants who refuse to drop their weapons and embrace the Federal Government amnesty progamme are venting their frustration on hapless sailors.

They masquerade as Bakassi Freedom fighters terrorizing the waters, operating between 1100hrs and 300hrs within the Kwaibo and Rio axis with three and sometimes four speed boats fully armed with sophisticated weapons.

"This attack is becoming a daily occurrence especially between Calabar and Cameroon Channel as well as Adoni, Benin, and Yenagoa waters.

This is in spite of a joint security meeting between representatives of the Nigerian Merchant Navy headed by Captain Thomas Kemewerigha and the State Security Service (SSS) of both the Akwa-Ibom and Cross River States, the outcome of the collaboration has not been able to curtail the activities of these criminals.

"We appeal to all relevant Government Agencies, the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA, Ministries of Transport and Defense, the SSS as well as the International Transport Federation (ITF), International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to wake up and ensure safety of the nation's waters for sake of the sailors and their families."

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