Kidnappers seem to have set their sights on Calabar metropolis, as gunmen are reported to have abducted for ransom six people in ten days.
One of the abducted, David Ugwu, a lecturer at the University of Calabar, was reportedly whisked away from his residence along Atimbo. Another victim, Maurice Archibong, an accounting staff with the Nigerian Chronicle Newspaper, was kidnapped by gunmen last Sunday night, while Chief Desmond Oko, an Igbo businessman, was picked up on last Tuesday night.
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Another Igbo businessman, popularly known as ‘Champion’, and his brother were kidnapped at Garden Street last Wednesday night.
Champion’s brother was kidnapped when he went with a ransom sum to free his brother. The hoodlums had collected the ransom, released Champion and then detained the brother asking for more money.
It was learnt that an unidentified Calabar socialite was kidnapped on Saturday, February 22 at Efio-Ete axis in Calabar municipality about 9:00 pm.
A witness, Eno Emmanuel, said the abductors had traced the victim to a bar at Efio-Ete where they hid around, striking soon as the victim entered his car.
Eno, who sells oranges around the junction, said: “We just heard a gunshot and we thought they were robbers because most times they just shoot and carry something and zoom off. But this one was different. They just carried one man and took off.”
With regards to Champion, family sources revealed that he and his brother had been released after paying N3.5 million in ransom, while Chief Desmond was released Saturday night after paying about N2 million to his abductors.
The abductors of the accounting staff at Chronicle Newspaper, Maurice Archibong, have reportedly contacted the family and demanded N1.5 million as ransom for his release.
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As for the lecturer, his abductors are demanding for N15 million.
Narrating his ordeal, one of the victims said: “It is a terrible experience and these boys are operating freely. Calabar has become very unsafe for business and leisure. How can they carry human beings in a car and beat all the security checkpoints and carry somebody to the creeks?
“These boys kidnap every day and some victims die in the process. Please, we plead with the government to do something about this state of insecurity in Calabar.”
Meanwhile, some top Igbo businessmen are said to have sent a delegation to the Akwa Ibom government to allocate some parcel of land where they can build shops, as Cross River is said to have become too insecure for business.
Sources close to the Igbo community leadership in the state disclosed that they have had a series of meetings in recent days, advising Igbo businessmen to relocate their businesses to more secure states.
The State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo, confirmed the latest kidnapping incident.
She said, “I am aware that somebody has been kidnapped but I have not been briefed by the anti-kidnapping squad if at all the matter has been reported to the squad.”
But a top security officer, who pleaded anonymity, blamed the increase in kidnapping and robbery on a lack of funds and operational vehicles.
The officer said: “We have heightened security challenges in the state. This is because the governor is not funding security agencies as other governors do. So we cannot fight crime alone. We need support from the state for enforcement.”