Over 700 sea pirates invaded Akwa Ibom fishing settlements, which are located in Oron, Mbo Local Governments Area of the state.
The outlaws reportedly kidnapped five victims and carted away nine boats belonging to fishermen including their outboard engines.
It was gathered that voyage on the Oron-Calabar waterway is on the verge of collapsing as boat operators and commuters become fearful for their lives.
A source said that the pirates, who stormed the fishing community, shot continuously in the air to scare away fishermen and other people in the locality, though the location where the boats and engines were seized was close to the Naval Base.
An eyewitness who pleaded not to be named alleged that the assailants met no resistance from naval officers as the attack lasted for hours.
According to him, during the operations, the pirates left behind a phone number for communication with the owners of the seized engines and negotiation for ransom.
“Each engine is worth between N6 million and N8.5 million while a fairly used one goes for about N3 million depending on the horsepower rating.
“The pirates usually accept a ransom for seized engines but not in all cases as they sometimes sell the engines in other states in Nigeria and neighbouring countries,” he said When our correspondent visited the community, some open stalls at the beach were deserted while a few traders were displaying their wares such as fish and other goods,” he said.
A boat operator at the beach who identified himself as Bassey Effiong, said activities of the pirates have escalated in the area despite the presence of security agencies.
“As you heard, Ibaka is not safe for us fishermen and people who come here for business. Sometimes we give the navy people some money for their upkeep but they cannot defend us.
“Even the pirates, some of us pay them to allow us to do our work, but they always come back to kill and sometimes take away our engines.
“I want the government to look into this and bring a permanent solution to this problem,” he remarked. A fish trader, Mrs Utibe Matthew, said that she came from a neighbouring community to purchase goods at Ibaka.
“I am disappointed because the quantity of crayfish and fish that is available is below what I expected. I have a stall at Akpan Andem market in Uyo, and demand is very high. Insecurity should be addressed for full-fledged economic activities to resume,” she stated in the Ibibio language,” he added.