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Pirates invade Rivers, Bayelsa creeks

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Some small islands, creeks and communities in Bayelsa and Rivers States are facing incessant attacks by pirates. It was learnt that a fishing port in Ngo in Andoni Local Government Area of Rivers State had been attacked several times by thieves, who made away with boat engines belonging to fishermen and members of the areas.

This was as a passenger boat sailing from Port Harcourt to Bille in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State was reported to have been attacked on Sunday by sea pirates. Meanwhile, the Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh said that the Federal Government had placed a high premium on the safety and security of shipping on its waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

To confront the menace of maritime criminality head-on, he explained that the country had made huge investments in the establishment of a comprehensive maritime security infrastructure, noting that the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure (INSWPI) known as Deep Blue Project was designed to secure the nation’s waters, up to the Gulf of Guinea.

It was also gathered that in the attack, a father of six, Tamuno Kemuel lost his life, while valuables of other passengers and a speedboat were carted away by the pirates. According to the former Chairman of Bille Kingdom Community Development Committee, Igbanibo Kemuel, the attack occurred on Sunday, saying that the incident which left one person dead and several others missing, calls for concerted action from relevant stakeholders, especially the security agencies to smoke out the criminals.

He further lamented that the pirates’ activities were regular in the state due to the absence of security checks. Similarly, it was learnt that eight pirates armed with machine guns recently boarded a product tanker in Bayelsa underway around 196 nautical miles southwest of the state and escaped with no fewer than 13 crew members from a vessel. Meanwhile, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has said that no fewer than 132 attacks by pirates had been recorded since the beginning of this year, noting that attacks had increased by 40 per cent in the number of kidnappings reported in the Gulf of Guinea in the first nine months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

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