By Emmanuel Una
On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, Mayen, the wife of the Judex Okoro the Sun newspaper correspondent in Cross River, was abducted in Big Qua Town, the heart of Calabar Township, by three armed men. At the time of writing this report on Thursday morning, it was not yet known where the mother of four was taken.
This is the trend of events in Calabar, the capital of the Cross River state in recent years, with kidnappings happening every time and this has made the city of his once glorious state as the paradisiacal city where many found comfort and security to an ignoble lair of kidnappers and thieves who steal, kidnap, kill and maim at will.
Teachers, doctors, pastors, motor mechanics, drivers, journalists, students, and anyone who can afford a few thousand are all targets. This is different from kidnappers elsewhere who target the wealthy and expats with large bank accounts that could hand over millions of money as ransom. Here in Calabar, in fact, it is a case of anyone with little money to liquidate the boys.
It is difficult to keep a complete record of those who have been abducted in the recent past, up to four or five people have been victims in a single street and almost no one in the city can say that they do not know one or two people who have been abducted with a ransom paid. Recently, the following people were kidnapped in the city. Dr. Anthony Egbe from the University of Calabar, Mr. Efiom Edem Asuquo, Dr. Vivien Otu, Mr. Felix Ekpenyong, student and son of the permanent secretary in the state, four Chinese citizens: Kan Jinxi, Hunji Chan, Jian Jijun, Chen Who works for a construction company, Danatrite others are Glory Okon, wife of an acquaintance man from Calabar, Abonima, Mrs. Agube, wife of the judge of the Court of Appeals, Mrs. Etim, Ignatius Agube whose police ordinance was assassinated , Matata twins, Ekanem Iyamba, an announcer for FRCN Fm in Calabar, and a Cameroonian diplomat whose name was not released by the police.
Some victims have not been lucky enough to return home alive even after the ransom was paid. Among them is Peter Etim, an announcer from the state broadcasting station, Cross River Broadcasting Corporation, CRBC, another is a merchant, an eighty-year-old man from Anambra state, Odinka Odinka, whose shopping center is located along Target Road. Both have not been seen for several months after they were abducted. Etym was kidnapped in December 2018, while Odinka was kidnapped in 2019. Another victim. Jones who died in captivity, the thugs took the body in the middle of the night and took the wife who was only released after another ransom was paid, which according to the kidnapper was for “suffering” when dying in captivity. Before now, there had been kidnappings of Seyi Adekunle, a Living Faith Church pastor, also known as Winners’ Chapel, who was praying with some of his pastors at their church location in front of Margaret Ekpo Calabar International Airport to prepare for the service the next day when gunmen stormed the scene, dragged him into a pickup truck and drove off.
Obong Ude, the owner of the Udensco gas station located along Eta Agba Road, was kidnapped and taken to an unknown destination and the family had to cough up a few million naira as ransom.
In the same period, another oil trader, Chief Agbor, was kidnapped in Ikotenim, the eastern axis of the city, and a ransom was demanded before being released.
What is surprising about these kidnappings is the fact that the thugs usually raid the homes of their targets both day and night to take their victims away, while some others are brought close to their homes without any challenge from the plethora of agents. road safety. The ever-bubbling nightlife in the city has come to its knees as many residents take on low-key lives, while some have moved elsewhere to avoid the prying eyes of thugs and their informants.
These kidnappings are by no means exhaustive, as many professors at the University of Calabar have been victims of these nefarious acts, prompting the University Academic Staff Union, ASUU, to undertake industrial action to encourage school authorities to reinforce security inside and outside around the school. So are the doctors at the University Hospital of Calabar, who have become regular “customers” and cash cows for bullies.
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has repeatedly called its members to strike to demand that the abduction of its members stop.
The Pentecostal Fraternity of Nigeria in the state led by Dr. Lawrence Ekwok had to issue a statement warning thugs to keep men of God away to avoid incurring the wrath of God by extorting what he called “money. of shepherds’ blood. “
The state governor, Senator Ben Ayade, concerned about the high rate of kidnappings during his first term, sent a bill to the State House of Assembly to call for the death penalty for convicted kidnappers and for the state confiscate the property belonging to the convicted kidnappers and this was approved. in law.
In addition to the anti-kidnapping law, the kidnappers’ properties are being demolished. Last month, Mr. Alfred Mboto, Permanent Secretary of the Office of the State Security Adviser, led a team of police to demolish several houses belonging to known kidnappers, but this has not deterred the activities of these thugs.
On Monday, October 12, more than twenty thugs were arrested in Akpabuyo, on the outskirts of Calabar, by soldiers who carried out security checks along the Bakassi – Calabar highway, but this does not seem to deter the kidnappers.
Cross River State Police Commissioner Mr. Abdulahi Jimoh said that a number of thugs have been arrested in the recent past and some charged to court and that no effort will be spared to ensure a Cross River status free from crimes.
“I am taking this opportunity to appeal to all those who have criminal intent or who are involved in criminal activity to abandon their heinous ways of life or move to another state.”