The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide has condemned the incessant killings, sea piracy, kidnappings and other criminal activities perpetrated by gunmen along the Bonny and Antoni waterways in River State.
The IYC in a statement, signed and issued by its President, Comrade Peter Timothy Igbifa, and made available to Ijaw News on Wednesday, described the recent criminal activities as alarming, barbaric and saddening.
Igbifa said people in the area now travel with fears, adding that it has also affected economic activities, especially as most people engage in buying and selling as their means of livelihood.
The statement reads in part,” We have watched with chagrin, the incessant killings, sea piracy, kidnappings and other criminal activities perpetrated by gunmen along the Bonny and Andoni waterways in Rivers State.
“These traveling routes have become death traps because these daredevil marauding beasts have converted them to their conquered territories operating at will without fear of any security interventions.
“Just recently, two passengers were reported dead and many others missing after pirates seized two commercial boats around Dema Abbey Community on Bonny waterways. This unfortunate development led Bonny residents to troop to the streets in protest.
“In fact, the criminal activities along these waterways are alarming, barbaric and saddening. Our people travel in fear. It has negatively impacted on economic activities especially as most people engage in buying and selling as their means of livelihood. This means that they must travel to Port Harcourt through the waterways to bring in goods to their various communities. Unfortunately, they now travel at the mercy of merciless bandits.
“There is an urgent need to sanitise the waterways and dismantle the camps of these criminals. We are calling on the state and local government to collaborate with security agencies to ensure the safety of our people.
“The military and the marine police should identify the red zones on the waterways and create checkpoints to tackle this criminality. There should also be regular and constant patrols along the affected waterways to restore the confidence of travelers.
“We are calling on the chairpersons of Andoni and Bonny local government areas to be more proactive instead engaging in reactionary approaches each time these criminals attack their victims. They should explore the possibility of constituting youths into local vigilant groups and empower them to patrol the waterways.
“The council under my leadership cannot fold its hands and watch our people suffer helplessly in the hands of daredevil criminals. Therefore, we are working with the Eastern Zone to activate a robust security plan and strategy to assist the government in tackling this menace.
“We are warning youths to desist from crime and embrace legitimate means of livelihood. Enough of this senseless and heartless attacks on our innocent mothers, fathers and daughters who are working hard to make a living.”