In November 2019, while I was still incarcerated, we heard in our transistor radios how the “Ak 47 Economy” aka kidnapping was flourishing in Calabar. The news was awash with cases of rampant kidnapping in a town where such occurrences were hitherto unheard of.
We heard that over six members of staff of the University of Calabar were kidnapped and ransom running into several millions of naira paid. The teaching hospital staff were mostly affected, leading to their downing tools to protest insecurity.
Within the same period, two spare parts merchants, simply named Nonso and Chibuzor, who own shops at Chamley and Eight Miles respectively, an unnamed son-in-law to a lecturer in the faculty of Arts, University of Calabar and Mr. Emmanuel Abbeng, a retired civil servant as well as a senior staff of one of the new generation banks in Calabar and two traders simply identified as Idorenyen and Celestine Uzondu were also kidnapped.
By the turn of the year, between January and February 2020, seven persons were reported to have been abducted in Calabar for ransom.
David Ugwu, a lecturer at the University of Calabar, was whisked away from his residence along Atimbo.
Maurice Archibong, an accounting staff with the Nigerian Chronicle Newspaper, was kidnapped by gunmen at night and the kidnappers contacted the family and demanded N1.5million.
Chief Desmond Oko, a businessman, was also picked up at night and released after paying N2million to his abductors.
Another businessman, popularly known as ‘Champion’, was kidnapped at Garden Street. And Champion’s brother was also kidnapped when he went with a ransom to free Champion. The kidnappers collected the ransom, released Champion and then detained the brother asking for more money. The duo paid N3.5million ransom according to family sources.
An unidentified Calabar socialite was also kidnapped on Saturday, February 22 at Efio-Ete in Calabar municipality about 9:00 pm.
On the 5th of March 2020, the Police arrested 3 kidnappers and rescued a woman who was already in their custody.
In March 2020, within the past 48 hours, a popular Calabar night club owner, Akeem Ibrahim, a UCTH Assistant Director, an unnamed businessman, have been kidnapped in Calabar. A monarch also spoke with yours sincerely this morning telling me one of his subjects who to was coming the palace to see him because his relation has been kidnapped.
This is the sorry state of our State capital, a city that was once the tourist’s favourite destination.
While in Afokang prison, inmates call kidnapping “WORK.” When any alleged kidnapper is brought in and they tell us their “New Man” story, they are usually upset that they went for work and the work “fuck up.” They don’t see it as a crime. It is WORK.
Hours after any kidnapping case in the “outside world” those of us in the “inside world” are already abreast and in no time, the alleged kidnappers in prison are making contacts and already telling you which gang has “done the work.”.
That is the dilemma that is lurking like an absurd goblin over everyone’s head. Let us realise that those who are picking up these “goods” and asking for pay do not consider their act abhorrent. It has nothing to do with the laws you want to make. Make it capital or small offence, it is work for the offenders.
Until society is able to replace that work with another work, we must resort to looking to God for help while our emperor is frolicking in his utopian dreams for the Nation’s Paradise.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.
Citizen Agba Jalingo is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch and writes from Lagos State.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.