By Ekanem Bassey, Calabar,
The President of Igbo Community in Calabar (ICC), Cross River State capital, Prof Emeka Okwueze has revealed why Igbo businessmen relocated to sisters’ states.
Prof Okwueze who was speaking with newsmen in Calabar on Sunday lamented the spade of kidnapping and robberies in the state.
He said “It is very unfortunate that we are the victims all the time even when we go about doing our businesses and contributing to the economic growth of the state.
“I do know that the state government has invested in security through Homeland Security outfit and others but may not be enough.
He stressed the urgent need to beef up security considering the fact that the primary responsibility of every government is to protect lives and property.
In his part, an officers of the Phone dealers Association, Mr Ifeanyi Uwakwe, lamented, “There is hardly any big mobile phones shops that have not been robbed in Calabar for up to two times in two week. At my shop at Mayne Avenue by Goldie I was robbed twice within two weeks.
“Phones and accessories worth millions of naira were carted away by the hoodlums. Calabar has lost its peaceful nature-statue”
He called on the state government to beef up security around business axis and protect shops to restore confidence among investors, who are gradually finding new solace in Uyo in Akwa Ibom.
The leader of Onye Agala Nwaneya, Chief Uzowulu AKachi, said Igbo traders and businessmen have passed through hell in the hands of armed bandits and kidnappers as millions of naira have been wasted paying ransom to different kidnap gangs that operate in the state.
Lamenting their woe, he said: “A week hardly pass without one Igbo man being kidnapped in Cross River state. We are now leaving in a state of fear and uncertainty.
“Our shops are raided at will; our private residents are invaded at night and valuables as well as cash carted away. We end up losing our life investments and savings.
“So, we had to come up with an alternative and that’s by relocating either to our various states or nearby friendly Akwa Ibom state. I can tell you that it has been very rewarding as at least 30 per cent of our members have moved to Uyo.
“We are negotiating with the state government over there and we are getting favourable responses. Certainly by end of this year, the majority would have relocated with their families.
It was gathered that big companies including Nigeria Bottling Company, NBC, Nigeria Breweries, NBL, Coco-Cola have closed down their depot offices in Calabar and moved over to Uyo over alleged insecurity.
In the same vein some contractors and private investors in the area of hospitality industry and fast food are discreetly relocating to Uyo while operating skeletal services in Calabar.
It would be recalled that the Cross River State Police Commissioner (CP), Mohammed Inuwa Hafiz in an interview with DAILY NEWS in his office said the command was interfacing with senior cult members in the state with a view to proffering peace in the state.
“We had interfaced between various cult groups in the state because you would believe that when I sat down and thought about the menace of cultism, arm robberies and kidnapping in the state, I come to realized that it is not only by fighting these people that can solve the problem.
“I decided to say, since these people are faceless, let me unmasked them, how will I unmasked them, by entering into partnership with people who are ready to sit with us and discuss.
He explained that “In the State, we have a lot of people who have the spirit, the courage to even lead us to know these people because all what they want is peace.
“The state is known for peace, so with this societal problems and menace of cultism, people are becoming agitated and becoming worried about it and allowing it to grow up to this level was what we wouldn’t want.”
The Commissioner said, “We are working with one of the Special Adviser to the Governor on inter party affairs who is doing very very well and he is assisting us and doing enormous job to the state.
“With him, every month, we sat down with senior cult members of various cult groups and interfaced on how cultism would be gulped and bring peace to the state” he stated.