Odudoh said that the activities of pirates and their involvement in organised crimes threaten national security and the economic activities in the affected coastal communities.
The House of Representatives has called on the relevant security agencies to deploy more security personnel to coastal communities in Akwa Ibom State, South-South Nigeria.
The call is sequel to a motion moved by Rep. Uduak Odudoh (PDP, Akwa Ibom), who stressed the need to checkmate the persistent criminal activities of pirates, who have found the area to be their haven.
Odudoh worried that the conduct of the criminals in the areas portends grave danger to the country’s economy just as it poses an existential threat to the continuous existence of the coastal communities.
Moving the motion, the lawmaker noted that Maritime Security and other related issues are captured in the Exclusive Legislative list and provided for under the Second Schedule of Part 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).
He also noted that “coastal Areas in Akwa Ibom State include 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 are interconnected with other communities in the Niger Delta including Andoni and Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Areas of Rivers State.”
He informed that the residents of the aforementioned areas are predominantly farmers, who engage mainly in fishing along the waterways in their communities, and noted that incessant attacks by pirates have left residents of the coastal areas in Akwa Ibom State living in perpetual fear even as economic activities in the affected communities have been hampered and their sources of livelihood severely threatened.
The lawmaker further informed the House that fishermen in the affected areas, who are insistent on exploring the Atlantic Ocean, are 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.
He said, “as a result of recurring attacks at Ikot Abasi Local Government Area by armed robbers whose escape route is through the waterways, several financial institutions in the area have shut down, forcing people to go long distances to carry out banking transactions, adding that it has also deprived the people of investment opportunities that could have brought about development in their communities.”
He added that maritime security personnel deployed to the affected areas are inadequate and under-equipped to effectively engage in combat against the pirates, who are heavily armed with sophisticated ammunition.
In adopting the motion, the Senate also called for adequate motivation for security officials to be deployed.