Traders in Cross River under the auspices of Calabar Traders Union have shut markets and shops in Calabar metropolis to protest the spate of kidnapping in the state.
The traders lamented that over 18 of their members have been kidnapped in the last 10 months.
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The traders said that the development has become very disturbing following the kidnap of one of their patron, Mr Jude Odinka, who has been in captivity for eight weeks.
Speaking, Mr Akparawa David, the Vice President of Electrical Dealers and Allied Product, told journalists that the issue of insecurity in the state had become worrisome.
Essien said they have become a veritable target as many of their members have either been kidnapped or attacked or died in their captor’s den.
“We are closing our shops, shades and markets including timber markets, spare parts market/shops, electrical stores amongst others for two days to protest the incessant kidnap of our members.
“Just recently, it has degenerated to kidnap of ordinary traders and not the moguls; that is how bad it is now.
“We commend the effort of the state government in demolishing houses of kidnappers but the state government must rise up and take the bull by its horns.
“We can no longer keep quiet because our members are suffering. Some of these traders use loans, while some get goods from importers on credit and pay back after-sales,” he said.
He added that due to the ransom they pay to the kidnappers, they have become perpetual debtors, adding that some traders have paid as high as N7 million as Ransome.
He appealed to Gov. Ben Ayade and the police to come to their aid, saying that the two days closure was a warning to drive home their grievances.
“We are not happy, we do business in fear; the level of insecurity in Calabar is already out of hands and the state at large.
“There is an anti-kidnapping law, it should be enforced seriously and to the latter. The state government should beef up security and equip security agencies,” he said.
Mr Festus Mbanu, Chairman, Building Materials Traders Association in Calabar, called on the government to come to their rescue as they were afraid to do business for fear of being kidnapped.
“This is our way of letting the authorities know that we are now doing business as traders in fear, most of us no longer go to our shops or business places because we don’t know who is next for kidnap.
“None of our members is spared, once you are perceived to be able to pay any ransom; you will be picked up and forced to pay the ransom for your release and a lot of shops and businesses have packed up already because of this ugly trend,” he said.
Spare Parts Dealers Association Chairman in Calabar, Mr Obi Ajuluchukwu, also urged the government to help security agencies carry out their duty, adding that within the last six months about 7 of his members have been abducted.
“Some of my members have been kidnapped more than once, other traders to have been picked up many times. Even a pregnant woman is still in captivity as we speak and we can no longer bear the pain,” he said.
Reacting, the State Security Adviser, South, Mr Ani Esin, said the state government in collaboration with security agencies had already launched a campaign against all forms of crimes in the state.
Ani said that his office had demolished several buildings owned by suspected kidnappers in Calabar.
He called on the traders to support the efforts of the state government and security agencies in trying to keep the state safe from suspected criminals.