Residents of Calabar in Cross River State have expressed concerns and painted a gloomy picture of the annual Calabar carnival following the spate of insecurity in the city.
The residents particularly expressed fear that the spate of kidnappings in the capital city would rob the shine off the annual carnival scheduled to commence on Dec. 1.
In separate reactions to the situation, the citizens, however, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), that the government and security agencies should step up efforts at securing the state.
NAN reports that the residents have been faced with almost daily cases of kidnappings that seem to defy solutions.
Members of the various professions, including medical practitioners, lawyers, clerics, academicians and other high profile personalities have been targets of kidnappers of recent.
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) recently called off a 40-day industrial action over the abduction of one of their colleagues, Prof. Ekanem Ephraim, who was seized from her private medical facility in Calabar.
They described her abduction as one too many among the medical professionals.
The chapter chairman of the association, Dr Felix Archibong, lamented that 115 days after her abduction, the professor and a neurologist was yet to secure her freedom.
He attributed the reason for calling off the strike to the appeal made by Governor Bassey Otu for the association to consider the innocent citizens who have been made to suffer unjustly.
However, Archibong said it was regrettable that security agencies and the state government had not been able secure her release after several promises made to that effect.
While noting that the state had become uninhabitable due to the activities of kidnappers, Archibong said several others, including medical personnel, have suffered same fate as Prof. Empraim.
“This is the situation in the state and it is regrettable that our colleague is still in captivity after 115 days.
“We are trying so hard not to make industrial action another alternative to getting the government and security agencies to keep to their promises,” he stated.
A resident, Mr Abel Achor, attributed the reason for the increase in the cases of abduction to hunger and called on the government to create the necessary environment for businesses to thrive.
“My stand is that if the government cannot provide the needed jobs for the unemployed, they should at least ensure an environment for businesses to thrive.”
Mr Emmanuel Owan, another resident who described the security challenge as unfortunate, feared that it posed danger for investors coming into the state.
He said the carnival would be the first casualty of the security challenge in the state.
According to him, “This challenge is in public domain and will definitely rob the shine off the coming carnival. You see how widely the abduction of the Director of Servicom in the University of Calabar was reported on Sunday.
“I think the state government, in collaboration with the security agencies, need to step up their game before the yuletide.”
The Chairman of Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) in Cross River, Mr Anthony Attah, charged the governor to do more in the area of security than just promising to arrest culprits.
“The government needs to do much more than promising to arrest the culprits and condemning the act.
“Beyond what is reported at the state capital and its environs, the level of kidnapping going on in the rural areas is an unmitigated catastrophe,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the government and the Police have constantly assured that everything was being done to arrest the security challenges, particularly that of kidnapping.
The governor had, during the swearing in of 31 commissioners, warned kidnappers to desist from abducting residents of the state.
Otu, who said that his administration had procured technology to curb the menace, said, “Enough is enough.”
The governor, who directed security agencies to arrest and prosecute criminals in line with extant laws of the state, announced a reward for any useful information that would curb kidnapping in the state.
He said his government would continue to display zero tolerance to kidnapping, cultism and armed robbery, and that it explained why he announced N5 million bounties for credible information on kidnapping.
“The technology can detect whereabouts of kidnappers. I had earlier granted the criminals amnesty. Only a handful came out to surrender their guns.
“I am not taking anything for granted. I have decided to go all out for them. If they won’t allow others to live in peace, they, too, won’t.
“They live amongst us. And so, the people must help to volunteer information about them,” he appealed.
The state Commissioner of Police, Gyogon Grimah, who said some suspects had been arrested in connection with kidnapping in the state, reiterated his resolve to rid the state of crimes and criminalities.(NAN)