The House of Representatives had demanded that adequate security be deployed to coastal areas in Akwa Ibom state, to stop the ongoing economic sabotage orchestrated by the activities of pirates and armed roberts in the areas.
The House, which was very worried about the reports of economic disruptions in the areas, also urged the security agencies of the federal government to deploy more maritime security personnel and adequately equip them to secure the coastal areas in the Niger Delta in general.
The resolution followed a motion by a member from Akwa Ibom state Mr Uduak Odudoh at plenary.
The lawmaker told the House that coastal Areas in Akwa Ibom State included Eastern Obolo, Mkpat Enin, Ikot Abasi, Ibeno, Mbo, Oron, Okobo, Udung Uko, Urue-Offong/Oruko Local Government Areas, with waterways of Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo Local Government Areas among others, and were interconnected with other communities in the Niger Delta including Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Areas of Rivers State.
Mr Odudoh stated that the residents of the aforementioned areas were predominantly farmers and engaged mainly in fishing along the waterways in their communities.
According to him, there were encompassing opportunities in the maritime industry, prompting the need to safeguard the country’s waterways from the nefarious activities of pirates;
The lawmaker stressed that the activities of pirates and their involvements in organized crimes were threats to national security and economic activities;
He expressed the concern that due to incessant attacks by pirates, residents of the coastal areas in Akwa Ibom State were living in perpetual fear even as economic activities in the affected communities have been hampered and their sources of livelihood severely threatened;
“The fishermen in the affected areas who are insistent on exploring the Atlantic ocean were forced to pay royalties to pirates before they are allowed to engage in their activities on the waters, as failure to pay the levies puts them at risk of getting killed or having their boats, equipment and other valuables stolen or vandalized.
“Worried that as a result of recurring attacks at Ikot Abasi Local Government Area by armed robbers whose escape route was through the waterways, several financial institutions in the area have shut down, forcing the people to go long distances to carry out banking transactions;
He added that the insecurity in the coastal areas have deprived the people of investment opportunities that could have brought about development in their communities;
Odudoh observed that the maritime security personnel deployed to the affected areas were inadequate and under-equipped to effectively engage in combat against the pirates who are heavily armed with sophisticated ammunition.
Adopting the motion, the House, urged the security agencies to provide incentives for deployed maritime security personnel in order to motivate and encourage them to uphold their agencies rule of engagement.