Four men suspected to be officials of the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Transportation or their agents have been arrested by the youths in Ibaka Mbo local government area, for “illegally extorting” cash from unsuspecting fishermen under fictitious name.
The suspects were arrested last week and handed over to the Nigerian Navy who had in turn handed them over to the police in Enwang, Mbo LGA, for further interrogation.
Human Rights lawyer and counsel for the fishermen in Ibaka, Barrister Oluwajuwon Ogunbiyi, who confirmed the arrest in a statement in Uyo on Monday, said that the suspects carry out their nefarious trade by disguising as security agents under the name ‘Government of Akwa Ibom State (Marine Safety, Security, Revenue Surveillance and Enforcement on Water ways/ Water Fronts)’ with which they used to fleece the fishermen of their hard-earned resources.
Ogunbiyi expressed disappointment that instead of tackling insecurity in the riverine areas, the state government was allegedly encouraging breakdown of law and order by employing thugs to “ilegally tax poor fishermen” in the state.
He lamented further that despite all entreaties to him, the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, had failed to tackle the growing insecurity in the riverine communities.
He said, “Four men who disguised themselves like security agents and claimed to be engaged by the Ministry of Transport of Akwa Ibom State were apprehended by youths of Ibaka community in Mbo L.G.A where they have been extorting fishermen in the area.
“The suspects were handed over by the youths to the Nigerian Navy who eventually handed them over to Nigeria Police at Enwang.
“The Government of Akwa Ibom State is encouraging the break down of law and order by employing touts, renegades, and unscrupulous elements in a bid to illegally tax poor fishermen who are currently battling with the terrors being unleashed on them everyday by sea pirates at the sea.
“The Governor has failed to address the issue of insecurity along Akwa Ibom waterways despite all entreaties to him. It is just as if the people have been left to bear the brunt of this malaise alone.”
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer of the Akwa Ibom State command , Odiko Macdon, said he wa yet to be briefed on the development, adding however that he would make inquiry from Monday (today) on the matter.
He said, “We don’t have any such information at our disposal yet, but I will try and find out. I don’t want to respond to an issue that I don’t have information about.”