Rising Spate Of Kidnapping Force Business Owners To Close Shops In Calabar
Worried over the rising spate of kidnapping in Calabar, traders are planning to close down shops for one week in protest against the ugly incident in the state.
A briefing by Concerned Businessmen Forum (CBF) at weekend, said the proposed shut down of all shops and business premises for at least one week in the state is to press home their demands for provision of adequate security in the state and government immediate clampdown on kidnappers that have made Calabar their safe haven.
It would be recalled that doctors in the state under the auspices of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) had last month down tools over the kidnap of their colleagues, Dr. Usang Ekanem and Dr. Emem Udoh, within a period of one week forcing the state government to enter into meetings with the association on the way forward.
Earlier, five Igbo businessmen had been abducted by hoodlums within three weeks this year in Calabar metropolis, causing fear among the Igbo community in the state. While one Ifeanyi and Lazarus, spare-parts dealers, were kidnapped two weeks ago, an electrical parts’ dealer and contractor popularly known as ‘But Why’ was whisked away in late January. The victims were kidnapped at their shops at Victor-Akan Street off Bedwell, all in Calabar South.
In the briefing at weekend, spokesperson of the forum, Chief Innocent Anyamelukwe, said it has become imperative for the traders and businessmen to take to the streets to protest against the incessant kidnapping and extortion of ransom running into millions of naira from businessmen by gunmen in recent times.
Anyamelukwe said the Igbos, which dominate the spare-parts, building materials and electrical appliances business chain, and are hard hit, have agreed to close shops once the date is announced and other businessmen and women have also agreed to join the fight against kidnapping.
He said: “Over 10 prominent sons have been abducted so far and millions of naira paid as ransom. Most of the victims pay between N500,000 and N20 million to secure their release from the kidnappers’ den even when injuries are inflicted on them. We have been made victims of kidnap in the state in the last one year and made to pay dearly to these hoodlums in the last couple of months. Unfortunately, nobody cares about our plight.
“As we speak, one Mr. Paulinus Obi, popularly known as Matata, and Emmanuel Ozokwu, an electrical contractor, and one Sunday Ekanem, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Akito Rentals are said to still be in kidnappers den for over a week now. We are now preys in the hands of criminals and everybody seem not to bother even when we pay our taxes.
“In this light, we have, therefore, resolved to shut down all shops on a day to be announced so as to attract attention and to see how this security lapse can be tackled. We will enforce the closure to press home our demand to stop the kidnapping”.