BY: VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
Traders in Cross River state, under the auspices of Calabar Traders’ Union have shut down every activity such as markets and shops in the state capital to protest the spate of kidnapping in recent time.
The traders who lamented that over 18 of their members have been kidnapped in the last 10 months adding “that it is an ugly development that has become very disturbing following the kidnap of one of thier patron ,Chief Jude Odinka who has been missing for eight weeks running.
Speaking with some newsmen at Bedwell, the biggest spare parts hub in Calabar, the Vice President Electrical Dealers & Allied products , Akparawa David Esien, said the issue of insecurity was strange and alien to Calabar, Cross River state.
He bemoaned that they have become a veritable target as many of their members have either been kidnapped or attacked or died in their captors den.
“We are closing our shops, shades and markets including timber markets ,spare parts market/shops , electrical stores amongst others for two days to protest the incessant kidnap of our members.
“Just recently ,it has degenerated to kidnapping of ordinary traders and not the moguls, that’s how bad it is now. We laud the effort of the state government in demolishing houses of Kidnappers but the state government must rise up and take the bull by its horn”.
“We can no longer keep quiet becuase our members are suffering. Some of theses traders use loans ,while some get goods from importers on credit and pay back after sales”.
“But due to the ransom they pay to these criminals they have become perpetual debtors because it seems they now work for the kidnappers because both capital and profit are paid to the hoodlums after they kidnap our members. Some have paid as high as 7 million Naira as ransom.
“We are therefore appealing to gov Ben Ayade and he police to come to our aid. The two day closure is just a warning to drive home our grievances
“We are not happy. We do business in fear. The level of insecurity in Calabar is already out of hands and the state at large. There is an anti kidnapping law. It should be enforced seriously and to the latte.,They should beef up security and equip security agencies, he said”.
Also, Bro Festus Mbanu, Chairman building Materials Traders Association Calabar called on government to come to their rescue as they are afraid to do business as they used to for fear of being attacked ,kidnapped or killed
His words:” this is our way of letting the authorities know that we are now doing business as traders in fear. Most of us no longer go to our shops or business places ,because you don’t know if you are next .We are kidnapped daily.
“Many of our members both male and female,no one is spared ,once you are perceived to be able to pay ,you will be picked up and you are forced to pay the ransom for your release a lot of shops and businesses have packed up already because of this ugly trend , he said”.
Spare Parts Dealers Association Chairman Calabar,Obi Ajuluchukwu also urged the government to help security agencies carry out their duty adding that within the last six months about 7 of his members have been abducted .
“Some of my members have been kidnapped more than once ,other traders too have been picked up many times ,even a pregnant woman( Mrs Peter Okon ) is still in their den,Mrs Etim B Okon and many others,we can no longer bear the pain.
“Over 25 of my members are now in Akwa Ibom state some no longer bring goods to thier shops in Calabar instead to go to Uyo ,Calabar is no longer safe as it used to be .Government should take a critical look into the matter .The two day shut down is a warning strike.
“The government should declare a state of emergency on security because a lot of people especially business men and women are no longer at ease ,and it is not acceptable , security of lives and property is the primary responsibility of government.
” We know we have our role to play ,which is part of what we are doing,by letting the authorities know ,that we are no longer safe in the metropolis and beyond,kidnapping is really strange in Calabar, he said”.