From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Fear has gripped Calabar residents as kidnappers has invaded the metropolis and abducted about 14 persons in the last four weeks.
This ugly incident is happening barely one year after the Governor Ben Ayade had inaugurated Operation Akpakwu, a state security outfit.
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Operation Akpakwu was inaugurated following public outcry against incessant cases of kidnapping, robbery, gangsterism and cult clashes, which was threatening peace and economic activities in the state.
However, the last one month has witnessed an upsurge in kidnapping activities as hoodlums had stormed some residential areas at 8-Miles and Lemna all within Calabar Municipality and whisked away innocent persons and allegedly collected ransom ranging from N200, 000 to N5m
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Sources close to security operatives disclosed that about six persons have been kidnapped at Lemna axis at the last week of October including one Marcellinus, a native of Ohong in Obudu local government area, Emmanuel, a procurement officer in the Cross River state ministry of power, Achiba, a staff of the department of Due Process and Price Intelligence and one Prof Etukudo, a former staff of University of Cross River State, who was abducted at his residence at Federal Housing Estate.
The source further disclosed that within first week of November, about six other persons have been kidnapped. While four were abducted at Satellite Town, two were abducted at 8-Miles axis.
Penultimate week, gunmen abducted about three others at Ikot Enebobg axis of the same 8-Miles.
Those wisked away at the wee hours of Saturday, November 13, included a minister serving with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Sunday Adediran, and a female public school teacher and a business man, Justine Esedeke.
The gunmen gained entry into the residents of the pastor and the lady-teacher through the roof tops separately and took them away even as residents put up resistance.
Investigations showed that most of the victims have been released after ransoms ranging from N200, 000 to N5m have been paid.
While the pastor and two others were released around 2:00am on Monday near Scanobo petrol station, Ikot Ekpo 8 miles on the outskirt of Calabar, Justine, 24, was rescued from his abductors at another location at 8-Miles without paying ransom.
The duo of pastor and the teacher were said to be released after collecting a paltry N200, 000 as against the N7m they demanded for, fearing that they may be rounded up by men of Anti Kidnapping and Cultism Squad who were on their trial.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Irene Ugbo, confirmed their release and commended the gallantry of AKCS squad while urging the public to cooperate with the police by giving useful information about happenings in their environment
She said: “It was a strict direct order of the Commissioner of police, CP Aminu Alhassan to men of AKCS and they acted swiftly to secure the release of the victims.”
Expressing fear at the increase in kidnapping activities, some residents called on the government to wake up before the state would relapse into another round of insecurity witnessed between 2018 and 2020.
A resident at Ikot Ekpo, Chief Ekpko Ekpenyong Ekpo, 57, said since they brought in Operation Akpakwu in December, 2020, normalcy returned, but expressed worry at the turn out of events as it may affect the Yuletide.
Another resident at Federal Housing Estate, Kingsley Agba, 34, said though the state government has tried, urged them to do more to return Calabar to the peaceful and serene state it was noted for, adding that this state of insecurity is killing the economy and driving investors away.
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