- Police, military launch manhunt as boat drivers protest
Gun-Wielding sea kidnappers are now on the prowl on Bayelsa waterways from Odioma, Brass Local Government Area of the state; Nembe in Nembe Local Government Area and Yenagoa, the State capital.
The kidnappers, suspected to be pirates, attacked speedboats and abducted six passengers on the Okpoama/Odioma and Nembe/Brass waterways.
It was gathered that the abduction and sea robbery occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday. One of the victims, identified simply as Walter, from Odioma, was reportedly kidnapped around the fishing port in Dasaba, while Inerikuma Moses,known as Holy Moses, was abducted in the Okpoama creeks.
Also, Alabo Elei, another victim, was reportedly kidnapped on his way from Nembe, though another version said that he was coming from Yenagoa, the state capital, when he was captured by the suspected gunmen.
The incessant abduction of persons and passengers by gunmen have paralysed marine transportation in the Nembe and Brass areas. Maritime workers in the areas have suspended their operations, a development that has left boat passengers stranded.
The state chairman of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Ogoniba Ipingansi who also confirmed the incident, said that the waterways were no longer safe and all boats operating along Odioma, Akassa, Brass and Nembe were no longer loading as passengers were asked to turn back.
“They attack some boats and rob 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.”
A publisher of a community newspaper, Atlantic Express, Chief Bomolayon Ereku, said he could not travel to Yenagoa from his country home in Akassa due to protests by maritime workers and boat drivers over the incident.
Apart from the six persons abducted on Tuesday, some others have been held hostage by gunmen in the last one week, a situation that has thrown residents in the coastal communities into panic.
MEANWHILE, the state Commissioner of Police, Mike Okoli, has ordered immediate manhunt for the kidnappers attacking speedboats.
Spokesman of the command, Asinim Butswat, while confirming the development, said the two separate incidents occurred simultaneously and that six passengers were allegedly kidnapped by the gunmen.
He said operatives from the Marine Police, Nigerian Navy and Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, had been combing the creeks in a joint operation to rescue the kidnapped victims and apprehend the kidnappers.
“The command appeals to the good people of Bayelsa State to remain calm and volunteer useful information to enable the security agencies to fish out these hoodlums,” he said.