By Bisi Olaniyi, Port Harcourt
Four senior officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) were on Monday morning kidnapped on Bonny waterway in Rivers State.
An indigene of coastal Bonny, the headquarters of Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers, confided in our correspondent that the immigration personnel left Bonny for Port Harcourt, the state capital for documentation and other official matters at NIS’ headquarters when pirates attacked them on the high sea.
They were said to have been whisked away in a Commando-like operation.
The source revealed that the boat’s driver was allowed to go after personnel of the para-military agency were moved into the higher-capacity speed boat, which immediately sped off.
The Bonny native also stated that no demand for ransom has been made stated shoot sporadically into the air to prevent being challenged or accosted by the security agents on patrol.
Bonny Island, by the Atlantic Ocean, is the base of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG), the crude oil export terminal of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited’s (MPN’s) export terminal for crude oil, condensate and Natural Gas Liquid (NGL).
The strategic Bonny/Bodo-Ogoni road with many bridges, a partnership between the Federal Government and NLNG, is being handled by construction giant, Julius Berger Nigeria Limited.
Besides the use of boats, Bonny can also be accessed through expensive helicopters or aircraft with about 60 seats, which the functional airstrip can accommodate.
In view of the criminal activities on Bonny waterway, most people prefer travelling with NLNG’s two luxury/executive and secure boats with air conditioners, which are usually booked in advance, leading to a busy jetty located behind the newly-built corporate headquarters of the gas company in Port Harcourt, following NLNG’s 2011 relocation of its head office from Lagos.
Bonny route is one of the most dangerous waterways in the Niger Delta with frequent attacks by daring and fully-armed sea pirates, who kidnap or dispossess passengers of their cash, phones, other valuables and most times remove the expensive engines of the regular speed boats with drivers left with no choice but to use paddles to move the boats to the shores.
Beautiful ladies/women are also regularly raped in the boats on the high sea by the criminals despite the patrols with gunboats by security operatives.
Rivers Police Spokesman, Nnamdi Omoni, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), couldn’t be reached for comment on the development.
Text messages to his mobile line and WhatsApp messages have not been replied.