By Bassey InyangÂ in Calabar
Kidnappers in Cross River State appear to have targetedÂ businessmen of Igbo extractionÂ as no fewer than five of them have been kidnapped within weeks.
Those kidnapped within the period include one Ifeanyi, and one Lazarus, both spare parts dealers, and an electrical partsâ€™ dealer and contractor popularly known as â€œBut Whyâ€.
While Ifeanyi and Lazarus were kidnapped about two weeks ago, at their shops located at Victor Akan Street, Calabar South, â€œBut Whyâ€ was allegedly whisked away from his shop on Monday.
According to several sources, the three kidnapped persons were released after they paid ransom of several millions of naira.
However, no sooner than the trio were released than a popular dealer in spare parts of Japanese vehicles, Mr. Paulinus Obi, popularly known as â€œMatataâ€, and another business man , Emmanuel Ozokwu, a contractor were abducted this week by kidnappers.
The kidnap of Matata and Ozokwu, is causing panic, and confusion among members of the Igbo community in Calabar, and the business community within the Bedwell Street, Target Streets, and Victor Akan Street.
While Obi was kidnapped on Wednesday at Bedwell Street, Ozokwu was abducted on Thursday at Target Street.
An eye witness account by one Chukwuemeka Okoli has it that Obi was abducted at about 7:00pm on Wednesday, February 7, in front of his shop.
â€œWe were sitting out in front of Matataâ€™s shop about 7:00pm having a drink and two young men wearing black all through walked up to Matata and excused him.
â€œAs soon as he stood up another stern looking masked man came out from a parked old blue Audi 80 with AK 47 riffled and 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 unknown destination.
â€œSince 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 longerâ€, Okoli said.
â€œWe are aware of the incident and we are doing our best to see to his release,â€ the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRP), Irene Ugbo, said while confirming the kidnap of Obi.
Reacting to what he described as the incessant kidnapping of Igbo businessmen in the state, the president of Igbo community, Calabar, Chief Albert Enya, described the incident as very unfortunate.
Enya said it was high time security operatives in the state stepped up their activities in terms of patrolling the streets of Calabar.
Enya said members of the Igbo business community should be more security conscious as they go about their lawful activities.
He promised that the Igbo community in Calabar would collaborate with the security operatives to put a stop to the incessant kidnapping of members.