From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
There is uneasy calm in Nembe, Brass and Akassa areas of Brass and Nembe local government areas of Bayelsa State following coordinated attacks on commercial boats by suspected pirates on Tuesday evening.
While the pirates that operated on Nembe-Brass route only stole from their passengers, those that staged the attack on Okpoama/Odioma waterways abducted six people, including a chief from one of the communities.
Chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Union, Ogoniba Ibingansi, who confirmed the attacks on telephone, said the waterways are no longer safe and boats operating on Odioma, Akassa, Brass and Nembe are no longer loading awhile passengers are being turned back.
Ibingansi, who also confirmed the security agencies, including the special adviser on Security Matters to the state governor, are battling on ways to counter the pirates, said: “The boys have taken over the water routes.”
According to investigations. the pirates have been operating on the waters for over a week without any response from security agencies, including the Nigerian Navy.
“It is not funny. They attacked some boats and robbed all the passengers on Monday evening. They abducted three persons; they attacked another boat and kidnapped four. They used the earlier boat to release the first three persons,” Ibingasi said.
Bayelsa State Police Command spokesman, Asinim Butswat, in a statement, said Commissioner of Police, Mike Okoli, has ordered immediate manhunt for the kidnappers who attacked speedboats and abducted passengers on the Okpoma/Odioma and Nembe/Brass waterways on February 9.
“The two separate incidents occurred simultaneously and six passengers were allegedly kidnapped by gunmen suspected to be pirates.
“In a joint operation, operatives from the Marine Police, Navy and Joint Task Force ‘Operation Delta Safe’ are combing the creeks to rescue the kidnapped victims and apprehend the kidnappers.
“The command appeals to the people to remain calm and volunteer useful information to enable the security agencies fish out these hoodlums.”