CROSS RIVER, Nigeria – Traders, market men and women, store owners and artisans in Cross River State have staged a peaceful protest over the alleged kidnapping of their members in the state.
The peaceful protest which commenced on Monday witnessed all markets, stores, warehouses, electronic stores, bush markets and all markets in the state closed down.
Our reporter who went around various markets and artisan shops observed that shop owners and operators refused to attend to customers in solidarity with the protesters.
An eyewitness who gave his name as Amachie lamented the constant kidnapping of people particularly Igbo traders in the state.
“Following the incessant kidnappings and robbery of Igbo traders in Cross River State, especially the state capital Calabar, the Union has planned a protest from Monday, June 22, 2020.
“We have decided to close our shops for two days; Monday and Tuesday, June 22 and 23, 2020 because of constant kidnapping of our members. No day without one of us picked or robbed, we need to express it publicly this time around”
Also speaking, the Chairman Spare Parts Dealers Association Calabar Mr. Obi Ajuluchukwu, appealed to government to look into the heightened level of kidnapping in the state saying that Calabar used to be a peaceful haven but today, 15 of our members have relocated to Akwa Ibom, so, a two-day warning strike will not kill us,” he said.
Reacting, the Permanent Secretary to Governor Ayade on State Security matters said the government has set in motion to punish any trader who closes his/her shop on those days.
He directed the traders to go ahead and open their shops and to support the government in fighting crimes in the state. “The attention of the Cross River State Government has been drawn to a plan by some members of Igbo traders union in the Calabar metropolis to force their members to close their shops for two days with effect from Monday, June 22, 2020.
Government is also aware of the threat of a N50 000 surcharge by the union on any Igbo trader who opens his or her shop for business within the two days.
Their plan is unacceptable to government and government will do everything within her powers and the law to arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons under any guise seen obstructing any Igbo trader from opening his/her shop for business in the state on Monday, June 22, 2020, and Tuesday, June 23, 2020.
All Igbo traders in Calabar and the entire Cross River State are, therefore, advised to disregard the call and threat of the Igbo traders union and open their shops for their legitimate businesses.
The union is rather enjoined to encourage the state government on the on-going war against kidnappers, cultists, drug trades, arm robbers and other illegal operations in the state instead of scuttling the effort of the government. “Be properly guided, please”, the statement read