Traders, Artisans, timbers dealers , mechanics locked up their shops to protest against persistent kidnapping in Calabar, Cross Rivers state.
Some of the major business hubs in Calabar such as; Bedwell Street, where spare parts are sold, Rabana timber markets, Garden Street building materials market, Watt market where textiles are sold, have been shut down over kidnapping of their members.
Speaking during the protest, The Vice Chairman, Calabar Traders Association, Akparawa David Essien, said at least 18 members of the union have been kidnapped in the last nine years, including a pregnant woman who, he said, was picked up from her kitchen, and Chief Jude Odinka, an asthmatic patient.
He lamented that since the traders’ body has not heard from those still in captivity, the two-day warning protest was to draw the attention of the government to the heightened insecurity in the state.
Also speaking, the chairman of Spare Parts Dealers Association in Calabar, Mr Obi Ajuluchukwu, lamented the insecurity situation, disclosing that at least, 15 members and business owners have relocated from the state, and called for the legalisation of arms-bearing for personal protection and safety.
However, the state government, which has since the last two weeks, embarked on pulling down houses and other structures believed to belong to suspected drug dealers, kidnappers and armed robbers, has cautioned the association against forcing traders against their will.
A statement released by Dr Alfred Mboto, Permanent Secretary in the state security office, gave the protest an ethnic coloration, saying members of Igbo traders union in Calabar metropolis are forcing their members to close their shops for two days and threatening N50,000 surcharge on any Igbo trader who opens for business.
The statement warned that the government will arrest and prosecute any person who obstructs any Igbo trader from opening for business in the state.