In protest against incessant kidnappings in Cross River State, traders in Calabar and environs yesterday shut their shops in a two-day walkout.
Under the auspices of Calabar Traders Union (CTU), the traders lamented that over 18 of their members had been kidnapped in the last 10 months, adding that the development came to a head with the kidnap of their patron, Chief Jude Odinka, who had been in captivity for eight weeks.
They placed an N50,000 fine on any trader that flouts the strike action.
Vice President of Electrical Dealers and Allied Products in Calabar, Akparawa Essien, said the traders had been made a veritable target of kidnapping, as many of their members had either been kidnapped or attacked, adding that some kidnap victims died in their captors den without any action from government.
He said, “We are closing our shops and markets, including timber markets, spare parts markets/shops and electrical stores for two days to protest against the incessant kidnap of our members. It has degenerated to kidnap of ordinary traders and not the moguls; that is how bad it is now. We laud the efforts of the authorities in demolishing kidnappers’ houses, but the state government must rise up and take the bull by the horn.
“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. But due to ransom they pay to these criminals, they have become perpetual debtors because it seems we now work for the kidnappers; as high as N7 million has been paid as ransom.”
He appealed to Governor Ben Ayade and security agencies to come to their aid, noting that the two-day closure was to drive home their grievances,” he said.
Chairman of spare parts dealers association in Calabar, Obi Ajuluchukwu, urged the government to help security agencies carry out their duty.
But in a statement, the Permanent Secretary (SSO), Dr. Alfred Mboto, noted that the state government was aware of the threat of N50,000 fine by the union on any Igbo trader who opened his or her shop for business within the two days.
The government described the N50,000 fine as unacceptable, vowing to arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons obstructing businesses in the state on June 22 and 23, 2020.
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