Fear has gripped the people of Calabar as kidnappers have invaded the metropolis and kidnapped around 15 people in the past four weeks.
This nasty incident occurs barely a year after Governor Ben Ayade inaugurated Operation Akpakwu, a state security agency.
Operation Akpakwu was launched in the wake of public outcry over the continuing cases of kidnappings, thefts, gangsterism and sectarian clashes, which threatened the peace and economic activities of the state.
However, the past month has seen an upsurge in kidnapping activity as thugs stormed some residential areas in 8-Miles and Lemna, all located in the Municipality of Calabar, and took away innocent people and reportedly collected ransoms ranging from 200,000 to 5 million naira.
Sources close to security officials revealed that around six people were kidnapped on the Lemna Axis during the last week of October.
Among those abducted are a certain Marcellinus, originally from Ohong in the Obudu local government area, Emmanuel, a procurement official at the Ministry of Power of Cross River State, Aciba, a member of the Due Department Process and Price Intelligence and Professor Etukudo, a former staff member of Cross River State University, who was abducted from his Federal Housing Estate residence.
The source further revealed that during the first week of November, around six other people were kidnapped. While four were kidnapped at Satellite Town, two were kidnapped on the 8-Mile Axis.
Penultimate week, gunmen kidnapped about three other people on the Ikot Enebobg axis of the same 8-Miles.
Among those evacuated in the wee hours of Saturday, November 13, were a minister of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Sunday Adediran, as well as a public school teacher and a businessman. , Justine Esedeke.
The gunmen separately entered the residents of the pastor and the hostess through the rooftops and led them away even as the residents resisted.
Investigations showed that most of the victims were released after ransoms ranging from 200,000 to 5 million naira were paid.
As the pastor and two other people were released around 2:00 a.m. Monday near the Scanobo gas station, Ikot Ekpo 8 miles on the outskirts of Calabar, Justine, 24, was rescued from her captors at another place at 8-Miles without paying a ransom.
The pastor and teacher duo were said to have been released after raising the paltry sum of N 200,000 compared to the N 7 million they were claiming, fearing they would be arrested by men from the Anti Kidnapping and Cultism Squad who were on their trail.
State Police Public Relations Officer DSP Irene Ugbo confirmed their release and praised the AKCS team’s bravery while urging the public to cooperate with the police in providing information useful about events in their environment.
She said: “It was a strict direct order from the Police Commissioner, CP Aminu Alhassan to the AKCS men and they acted quickly to secure the release of the victims.”
Expressing fear at the increase in kidnapping activity, some residents called on the government to wake up before the state falls back into a new wave of insecurity seen between 2018 and 2020.
Ikot Ekpo resident Chief Ekpko Ekpenyong Ekpo, 57, said that since they launched Operation Akpakwu in December 2020, normalcy has returned, but expressed concern about the turn of events as it could affect Yuletide.
Another Federal Housing Estate resident, Kingsley Agba, 34, said that although the state government has tried, urged them to do more to bring Calabar back to the peaceful and serene state he was noted for, adding that this state of insecurity is killing the economy and driving out investors.