A group of young men from Esighi village in Bakassi Local Government Area of Cross River State recently trailed and killed four ex-militants allegedly terrorising the waterways. The youths said they carried out the action after confirming that the ex-militants were in possession of some boats seized by a gang of pirates that robbed 19 Cameroon-bound passengers on April 25 along the Bakassi waterways.
The youth group also rescued three speed boats, suspected to have been stolen and used for operations by the former warlords.
The youths, numbering 10, reportedly took the step to fish out the pirates after they had been accused of being part of the April 25 attack.
One of the youths said the incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday, May 23 after they had successfully trailed the ex-militants to their base and killed four of them with their (the former militant’s) own weapon.
He said: “We have been looking for these militants but today we finally caught them and the boat. When we saw them, we jumped into the river. We swam to their location without them noticing us. We struggled with them and unfortunately one of us died but we eventually killed four of them with their guns”.
A community leader in Esighi, Livinus Oke, said the community had earlier accused the youths of being responsible for the April 25 incident, adding that the accusation made the youths to go in search of the perpetuators in order to prove their innocence.
He said the youths laid siege on the pirates and carried out the action, adding that the matter had been reported to the security agency.
But the Cross River State Police Public Relations Officer, Hogan Bassey, said no such incident had been reported. “The information is not authentic,” he said.
No fewer than 19 passengers were recently attacked by pirates along the waterways. Some of the female passengers were allegedly raped by the robbers. The driver of the boat, Effiom Bassey, said their experience was horrifying. He also said his boat and goods worth N40 million was taken away by the thieves.
Also, a 24-year-old fish trader, Enoh Ubon, who was among the victims, said passengers have lost valuables to sea pirates in the last few months. Ubon confirmed that two female traders were raped during the encounter by the robbers, adding that she was, however, spared because she was on her monthly menstrual cycle. “It is not the first time that we are being attacked. We have complained to authorities concerned but we have not seen improved security presence. The robbers do not only steal, they have added rape to it. This is unfortunate,” she said angrily.
By Pita Ochai