The attention of the Nigerian Navy (NN) has been drawn to a recent report published by some media outfit alleging invasion of Ibaka Beach by pirates. The report claimed that over 700 pirates invaded Ibaka Beach located at Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State kidnapping 5 persons and carting away 9 boats.
Relatedly, it was alleged that fishermen at Ibaka offer bribe to Nigerian Navy personnel to protect them against militants at the high sea, with nothing in return for such patronage.
The spurious allegations and claims were viewed seriously by the NN for which preliminary investigations and findings were made immediately. First, a meeting was held between the NN, Ibaka community stake holders including the Community Fishermen Association and some media houses at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) at IBAKA on 13 July 2022.
At the meeting, the spokesperson of Watchout Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ibaka, the umbrella organization of Ibaka fishermen, Mr Ogunbiyi Johnbull debunked the reported allegation and claims as false. This was corroborated by other stakeholders in attendance who together averred that it was unfair to propagate such falsehood. Thereafter, a visit was paid to Ibaka Beach to assess firsthand the state of commercial activities since it was falsely reported that activities has ceased, and the people had deserted the beach in fear of pirate attack and kidnap.
Activities were however observed to be ongoing as against the reported closure of stalls and limited activities at the beach. It was also observed that despite the heavy downpour at the time of visit, the beach was fully active as people went about their routine commercial activities unhindered and without fear.
The general public is therefore to note that there was no attack and kidnap incident at Ibaka Beach as alleged. Also, personnel of the NN serving at FOB IBAKA are not induced or bribed to perform their duties. The NN remains committed to its constitutional role of ensuring the security of Nigeria’s maritime environment for economic/commercial activities to thrive.
Furthermore, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its half-year report of 2022 commended the reduction of piracy in the globe and in particular the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). It is on firm authority to state as mentioned by the IMB Director, Mr Micheal Howlett, that no case of pirate attack or vessel hijack in Nigerian waters was reported in the first half of 2022.
Pertinently, pirates operate on the high seas, several hundreds of miles from the coast while sea robbers operate around coastal waters and along the inland waters; rivers and creeks. Nonetheless, the NN is committed to sustaining the momentum of operations as well as recently recorded successes as acknowledged by the IMB.
From the foregoing, it appears that the masterminds of these false allegations and claims were bent on hindering and distracting ongoing NN intensified anti-smuggling operations and efforts at countering maritime illegalities around Ibaka area notorious for smuggling of rice as well as illegally refined petroleum products and contraband.
Accordingly, the campaign of calumny against the NN is none and void and should be totally jettisoned.
Director of Information