The Nigerian Navy (NN) has been made aware of a recent report from a media outlet that claims pirates have invaded Ibaka Beach.
This information was included in a news statement that Commodore AO Ayo-Vaughan, Director of Information for the Nigerian Navy, signed.
According to the report, approximately 700 pirates attacked Ibaka Beach in Akwa Ibom State’s Mbo Local Government Area, kidnapped 5 people and stealing 9 watercraft.
According to allegations, Nigerian Navy officers at Ibaka are offered bribes by fishermen in exchange for protection from on-the-high-sea extremists.
The NN took the false accusations and assertions seriously, and as a result, preliminary investigations and conclusions were made right away.
At the Forward Operating Base (FOB) at IBAKA on July 13, 2022, a meeting between the NN, Ibaka community stakeholders, including the Community Fishermen Association, and various media outlets took place first.
The Watchout Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ibaka, the umbrella organization for Ibaka fisherman, was represented at the conference, and Mr. Ogunbiyi Johnbull refuted the claimed charge and assertions as untrue.
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.
According to the statement: “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 foreconomic/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.