The peace that residents of Calabar, the Cross River state capital, enjoyed over security challenges seem to have been threatened with recent increase in activities of kidnappers who have now succeeded in causing residents sleepless nights.
The state security outfit, Operation Akpakwu, had recorded huge success since it was established about five months ago, and had made life unbearable for robbers and kidnappers with tens of them arrested and some killed, but the dare-devil seem to have returned to Calabar.
At least, 10 high profile kidnapping has taken place within the past few weeks with latest victims being Rt Hon Dominic Akwa Edem, former House of Assembly Deputy Speaker, and Comrade Ben Ukpepi, Chairman of the NIgeria Labour Congress, NLC.
While Edem secured his freedom after a huge sum was allegedly paid, Ukpepi has been in captivity for the past 43 days with N150m demanded by his abductors.
Last Friday, a 58-year-old village head of Esuk Atu, Etubom Nto Okon Etim, was kidnapped and a ransom tag of N5 million placed on him.
An eyewitness, who preferred not to be named, said, “The abductors called on Sunday to demand N5 million. Within a period of four months, the youth leader’s wife, who sells meat, was kidnapped and a ransom of N700, 000 was paid before she was released,
“Another person who does sand business at our beach here was also abducted and money was given before he was released. Our people are now living in fear. We are appealing to Operation Akpakwu security operatives to extend their services to us.”
Also speaking, the victim’s wife, Arit Nto Okon Etim, said, “The kidnappers came to our house at Esuk Atu and shot sporadically, inflicted injuries on my husband before they took him away. They passed through the creeks and on Sunday, they call us to demand for N5m.
“We don’t have such money. We are appealing to government and the security agencies to come to our help and ensure that my husband is rescued.”
The Police Public Relations Officer for Cross River, DSP Irene Ugbo, could not pick her calls despite several attempts.
Those interviewed feared that the menace was gradually shattering the peace of Calabar, and therefore appealed to Operation Akpakwu and the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade, to once again rise to the occasion.