Palpable tension has gripped Calabar’s business community as five businessmen have been abducted by hoodlums within three weeks in the Cross River state capital.
Investigations revealed that while one Ifeanyi and Lazarus, spare parts dealers, were kidnapped two weeks ago, an electrical parts’ dealer and contractor popularly known as ‘But Why’ was whisked away on Monday.
The victims are said to have been kidnapped at their shops at Victor Akan Street, Calabar South.
Family sources say, however, that they have since regained their freedom after paying ransom running into millions of naira.
However, the latest kidnapping of popular spare parts dealer Mr. Paulinus Obi (popularly known as Matata) and Emmanuel Ozokwu, a contractor, has Calabar’s Igbo community on edge.
Obi was kidnapped on Wednesday at Bedwell Street, while Ozokwu was whisked away Thursday at Target Street, both in Calabar South.
A witness, Chukwuemeka Okoli, said that Obi was kidnapped about 7:00 pm on Wednesday, February 7, in front of his shop.
Narrating the incident, Okoli said:
“We were sitting out in front of Matata shop about 7:00 pm having a drink and two young men wearing black all through walked up to Matata and excused him.
“As soon as he stood up another stern-looking masked man came out from a parked old blue Audi 80 with an AK 47 rifle, jerked Matata up and threw him into the car. Immediately the Audi 80 drove off with the three other persons, another Camry car parked down Bedwell by White House Street followed them and they zoomed off to an unknown destination.
“Since then they have not called, neither have they sent any message as to the next thing we can do. Honestly, this is one kidnap too many, and the traders would not take this matter lying low any longer.”
Reacting, president of Calabar’s Igbo community Chief Albert Enya described the incident as very unfortunate and called on security operatives to step up patrols.
Decrying the incessant adduction of Igbo businessmen, Enya cautioned the Igbo community to be on alert, assuring that the community would collaborate with authorities to find a solution to what has become a known menace.
Confirming the kidnap of Mr. Obi, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Irene Ugbo, said: “We are aware of the incident and we are doing our best to see to his release.”