By Abel Krabee
About four suspected sea pirates were feared dead Tuesday while na aval officer, Seaman, Barau Ibrahim, suffered a gunshot wound after a shootout with men of the NNS Victory of the Nigerian Navy in Calabar along the Calabar channel.
The navy succeeded in capturing one of the suspected sea pirates, who gave his name as Bassey Bassey, and brought him into the NNS Victory base.
The leader of the navy team, Lieutenant Linus Osuman narrated that at about 8.30am Tuesday as they were escorting a Cameroonian vessel, the BRENDA CORLETT, in their gunboat when they came across a couple of speed boats around Parrot Island around the Oron Bar.
He said immediately, the boats who they suspected wanted to rob the vessel, sighted the naval team they took off. He said they gave chase and one of the boats disappeared into the creeks. The other developed engine problem and stalled.
He said while they were approaching the boat that had broken down, about seven men rose from the boat and started firing at them with AK47s. He said they had to return fire and in the process at least four of the robbers were hit and they fell into the water. The others jumped into the river.
He said they managed to get hold of one of them as he kept bobbing in and out of the water. The captured robber had charms tied all over him, he said. No bodies were however found. Osuman said their boats would return to the scene to see if they would recover anything.
The wounded naval official, Ibrahim, said they would have given chase into the creek if they were in a smaller boat. He was thankful for being alive, assuring that the navy would continue to do all it can to protect the waterways.
Commander of the NNS Victory, Commodore James Oluwole, said they conduct their patrols every day and such encounters was a bad day for the robbers.
‚ÄúThe waterways requires daily presence to heep it safe. The day we are not here, they would do havoc. We shall continue to sustain this operation,‚Äù Oluwole said.
Captain of the BRENDA CORLETT, Richard Nkollei, was thankful for the navy‚Äôs intervention, saying since they established their presence in the waterways, they have not been witnessing such incidents as yesterday‚Äôs.
The suspected robber said he was Bassey Bassey, an ex-militant from Akpabuyo in Cross River State.