By CrossRiverWatch admin
The Prevent Abuse of Children Today (PACT) Coalition, a group of civil societies in Cross River State has raised concerns about the rising spate of cases of child kidnapping in Calabar the state capital.
The group says they have been investigating the recent spate of child kidnapping in Calabar, and they are alarmed by the rising number of cases and have called on government to take urgent and adequate measures to protect the children.
The group alleged in a statement signed by the Coordinator, Barrister James Ibor, which was made available to CrossRiverWatch that “The ancient city of Calabar is famous for its serene and peaceful environment. It is known to be the safest State Capital in Nigeria. However, the city is now nose-diving into a den of kidnappers with incessant reported cases of child kidnapping. The fact that Calabar is increasingly gaining this sad reputation as a center of child kidnapping should be of major concern to all State and National leaders.
“Over the last 9 months, at least 20 children in the city and outskirts of Calabar have been reportedly kidnapped for suspected ritual purposes. The number of such cases seems to be increasingly on the rise. Children aged between 1 – 7 years have been reportedly kidnapped, leaving families distressed and helpless.
“On the 9th of July 2015, a 1 year and 9 months old baby was kidnapped at Ikot Abasi Obori Street, Ikot Ishie Town, Calabar. On 2nd June, 2015 a 4 and a half year old child was kidnapped at Awi, Akamkpa, Cross River State. On 15th May, 2015 a 4 year old child was kidnapped at Akamkpa, Cross River State and a 2 and a half year old child was also kidnapped at Idang, Calabar South. In April, 2015 a 4year old child was kidnapped at 8 mile axis of Calabar.
“Other cases include, a 1 and a half year old child who was kidnapped in May, 2015 after the kidnappers had lured the Child’s mother to Aba, Abia State under the pretence of giving her a job. Again, in April, 2015 a 7 year old child was kidnapped at Ambo Street, Calabar South. Another 7 year old child was kidnapped in April, 2015 at Idang, Calabar South. On 14th May, 2014 a 2 year old child was kidnapped at Okon Ekpo Close, Off Jebbs, Calabar South.
“In September, 2014 a 4 year old child was kidnapped at Adiabo, Odukpani L.G.A. Also, a little boy of 6 years and her sister (a 2 year old child), were both kidnapped in June, 2014 at Ikot-Eyo, Akpabuyo Local Government Area, Cross River State.
“We have the full data and documentation of these kidnapped children in Cross River State. All cases are too numerous to mention and are on the rise daily. It is speculated that these many incidents of kidnapping are sponsored by Politicians in the State who use the innocent victims for sacrificial rituals to gain perceived political victories and favors at elections and electoral tribunals.
The group further expressed worry that rather than help to unravel the cases of kidnapping, the police turn around to extort the desperate parents of victims in the guise of funding the investigation.
“It is extremely worrisome that the police appear to have been having a field day as they continue to extort money from the poor and desperate parents of these children, all in the name of financing investigations.
“Additionally, some self-proclaimed prophets claim to have spiritual powers to conjure and lure the kidnappers to bring back the missing children. At the moment, we are making efforts in collaboration with some security agents to arrest one of the prophets for extorting N40, 000 from one of the parents and victims. Despite all such claims and so-called investigations, no child has yet been found or returned to their parents.
“It is illegal as well as cruel and wicked for anyone to kidnap, maim, and/ or murder helpless and defenseless children. There can be no justification. This is a fundamental breach of the Cross River State Child’s Rights Law, 2009 and Nigeria’s international legal commitments.
“We condemn this heartless and senseless kidnapping of children in Cross River State. We call on the Federal and State governments to put an end to child kidnapping and help save and protect the lives of our younger generation. We must all join hands and ensure that these kidnapped children are found and returned to their parents alive, as well as prosecuting anyone suspected on evidence of being involved in the kidnapping of a child. Child rights are human rights. We must prevent abuse of children today.” The statement concluded.
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