By Jonathan Ugbal
More traders including pharmacies will join the protest in Calabar, the Cross River state capital by locking up their shops over the rising insecurity.
Some who spoke to this reporter said they delayed joining their colleagues on Monday due to ‘person reasons’ but will comply with their agreement on Tuesday (Today).
The traders in Calabar are protesting the continuous targeting of their colleagues by kidnappers.
The reported kidnap cases have risen by over 50 percent in the past five years despite claims that the crime level remains below three percent in the state.
One trader popularly known as Odinka was kidnapped nearly two months ago and despite entreaties and willingness by the traders to pay his ransom, has not been seen. His abductors have stopped communicating with his family too.
On Monday, there was nearly 90 percent compliance in major markets with only foodstuffs traders opening.
The Permanent Secretary in the secret service office, Alfred Mboto had warned against enforcing the closing of shops and armed policemen were deployed on Monday.
But, other aides of Governor Ben Ayade are meeting with the traders to stop the protest.
For instance, the Special Assistant on non indigenes affairs (Igbo), Ugorji Nwabueze had last week pleaded with Igbo traders not to embark on the strike. He is the President, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo in the state. The traders have investments said to be worth over N40 billion in the state.
Also, the Special Assistant on trade regulations, Jeremiah Ageh went round Watt market talking to traders to reopen shops, a statement from his office read.
He however warned that the state will not tolerate any breach of security in the guide of a protest.
According to the statement, Ageh said that the traders are, “important players in the economic wellbeing of the state and on their own part should be proactive enough to report any supported cases of armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism, hard drugs trading and any illegal trading to the relevant authorities and security apparatus provided by the state government.”
Furthermore, he said the, “Governor is equally concerned over your personal security and he is also doing everything within his powers to protect and provide a secured as well as enabling environment to do business in the state.”
He assured them of the government’s continued support and encouraged them to support the efforts of the state in improving security in the state.
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