Gunmen suspected to be sea pirates on Saturday attacked a passenger speed boat near Kiberi-Bio, on the Ogbia-Nembe-Brass waterways in Bayelsa East Senatorial District, seized two women and two children, as well as valuables and cash worth several millions of naira.
The incident occurred barely 48 hours after the state chapter of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) suspended its strike over insecurity in the waterways.
The state government had prevailed on the union’s leadership to suspend the strike, describing it as “ill-advised,” citing “the numerous ongoing developmental and political activities which require marine transportation”.
The governor’s Special Adviser on Security Matters, Bernard Kenebai, explained in a statement that dwindling revenue and resources have made it extremely difficult for the state government to support acquisition of transport boats as planned.
It was gathered that the boat was travelling from Ogbia to Okpoama in Brass Local Government Area when the gun-wielding hoodlums struck at about 3pm.
The armed bandits were said to have also made away with the speedboat after forcing the driver and the passengers on board to disembark into the mangrove forest.
One of the victims who escaped unhurt said, “They also carried two women and two children away. We don’t know what they want to do with them.”
The source added that nobody was killed in the attack, as the pirates did not fire a shot.
When contacted, the chairman of MWUN, Lloyd Sese, confirmed the attack on the Okpoama-bound passenger speed boat.
He took the opportunity to justify the strike action by members of the union, alleging that the government had been intimidating the union’s officials, thereby compelling them to suspend the strike prematurely.
Sese said a meeting between the government and the union’s leadership would hold in Yenagoa this week following the suspension of the strike.
He further stressed that the union has warned it would shun the meeting if its national officials were not invited to be present.
“We have also given [the government] three weeks to resolve the issue of insecurity in the waterways. If not, we will resume strike,” Sese added.