The spate of kidnapping in Cross River State seems to be on the increase as about seven persons have been abducted by gunmen in Calabar, the capital of the state, in the last three weeks.
Investigation showed that between April and September this year, over six members of staff of the University of Calabar were kidnapped and ransom running into several millions of naira paid. The teaching hospital staff were mostly affected, leading to their downing tools in August to protest insecurity of the workers.
However, the latest victims include two spare parts merchants, Nonso and Chibuzor, who own shops at Chamley and Eight Miles respectively, a son-in-law to a lecturer in faculty of Arts, University of Calabar, and Mr Emmanuel Abbeng, a retired civil servant.
Others said to have been quietly abducted are a senior staff of one of the leading banks and two traders simply identified as Idorenyen and Celestine Uzondu.
While Abbeng, Idorenyen, Uzondu and the lecturer’ son-in-law have been released after paying ransom ranging from N1m to N2.5m, the latest victims, including Nonso, Chibuzor and the senior staff of one of the leading banks, are still held hostage in the kidnappers’ den as ransom is being demanded before they regain their freedom.
It was learnt that Abbeng, who was picked penultimate week in company of his wife in front of University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH, regained freedom on November 18, 2019 after the family paid an agreed ransom.
Family sources said that Nonso was kidnapped at his shop located at Chamley/Ekondo Street on Thursday, November 14, 2019 about 7pm while taking stock in readiness to close for the day, adding that the kidnappers are yet to call them to know the whereabouts of their brother.
One of the victims, who don’t want his name in print, said: “I can tell you that kidnapping is silently going on in Calabar almost on daily basis. I was in their custody for about four days and within that period, they brought in about five other victims and I wondered how the pass all the security check points.
“It is really a booming business in Calabar and it is a pity that a city that was known for its serene and peaceful atmosphere had lost it. If it continues, then we are doomed.”
Expressing concern over the kidnap of some Igbo traders and businessmen in Calabar metropolis, the Igbo Traders Amalgamated, ITA, raised the alarm and vowed to close their shops if they are not protected.
Reacting to the development, police public relations officer in the state, Ms Irene Ugbo, said: “We are not aware of all these alleged kidnappings.”