CROSS RIVER, Nigeria – Within ten days in the last two weeks, gunmen kidnapped at least six victims in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The kidnappers have been demanding ransom amounting to millions of naira from family members and relatives of the victims.
First, it was the Associate Professor with the University of Calabar, David Ugwu, who was whisked away from his home in Atimbo area of the metropolis.
Those who kidnapped him are asking for a ransom of N15m to set him free.
This was followed by the kidnap of an account staff with the Nigerian Chronicle,
Maurice Archibong last week Sunday night. His abductors are demanding N1.5m as ransom.
Thereafter, a businessman, Desmond Oko, was whisked away from his business premises by gunmen last Tuesday night.
The kidnappers contacted his family members and demanded N6m before he could regain his freedom.
He was eventually set free Saturday night after paying a ransom of N2m. Oko had also been kidnapped in 2018 at the same Goldie.
Also kidnapped at Garden street last Wednesday in Calabar were two brothers. One of them called Champion was first kidnapped and when his brother went to pay the ransom, he too was seized by the kidnappers after they collected the ransom. They asked for more ransom before they could set Champion and his brother free. Family sources said they were released after allegedly paying N3.5m ransom.
Also, a Calabar-based socialite whose identity was yet to be disclosed was kidnapped on Saturday, February 22, 2020 at Efio-Ete area of Calabar at about 9:00pm.
According to an eyewitness, the abductors had traced the victim to a joint at Efio-Ete where they laid an ambush for him and as soon as he entered his car to go home, they waylaid him and took him away.
“We just heard a gunshot and we thought they were robbers because most times they just come shoot and carry something and zoom off. But this one was different. They just carried one man and took off,” the eyewitness said.
One of the victims while narrating his ordeal in the den of the kidnappers, said: “It was a terrible experience which I cannot even wish my worst enemy. You can imagine the type of inhuman treatment one went through in the hands of kidnappers.
“These boys are operating freely in Calabar and having a field day. 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 straight to the creek?
“These boys kidnap every day and some victims die in the process. Please we plead with government to do something about this state of insecurity in Calabar.”
Sources close to Igbo businessmen who are mostly victims of the spate of kidnappings, said the top businessmen have reportedly sent a delegation to Akwa Ibom government to allocate some parcels of land where they can build shops as Cross River is becoming too insecure.
Also, sources close to the Igbo community leadership in the state disclosed that they had held meetings in recent times where they advised Igbo businessmen to relocate their businesses to a more friendly state rather than staying here and making money for kidnappers.
A top security officer, who pleaded not to be named, blamed the increase in kidnapping and robbery on 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 government.”
The State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo, confirmed most of these incidents.
“We are 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,” she said while reacting to one of the incidents last week Wednesday.
The Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, had played down the incidents when he said during a TV programme at the weekend that kidnapping and cultism in the state were isolated incidents blown out of proportion by the media.