Judex Okoro, Calabar
The ‘war’ against kidnapping and cultism in Cross River has taken a new dimension as Governor Ben Ayade has demolished houses allegedly owned by kingpins and their die-hard followers.
Last week the state government had declared thirty-five persons including a PDP councillorship candidate for the Saturday, May 30 poll wanted in connection with cult and kidnap related activities, and placed a ransom on anybody who could assist to the arrest of the alleged kingpins.
The government had recently expressed concern over the rising cases of cultism and kidnapping, leading to killings, dehumanization and extorting of ransom form victims.
Source close to the security taskforce set up by government said over the weekend the team had gone round and marked the identified alleged cultists’ property in readiness demolition.
And at the early hours of Thursday the taskforce team made up government officials, anti cultism police squad and other security personnel moved in and demolished houses within Calabar metropolis including a mini-estate located at Edem Ita off CRUTECH quarters in Calabar South and owned by one notorious kidnap Kingpin, Kufre Eyo Etim (alias ROMANCE) and another house at Bwdwell Street owned by another notorious cultist popularly called CY.
Etim (alias ROMANCE), whose name is among the thirty-five wanted persons, is said to be a cultist and the leader of ticket group that operates within Bedwell axis and has been terrorising keep operators and taxi drivers.
He is said to have made a fortune from the illegal deals and have extorted millions of Naira from keke riders, taxi drivers, traders, and people who come to Bedwell to buy spare parts.
CY runs a popular notorious club that harbours criminals and some gangsters at Bedwell.
It was gathered that before the demolition exercise, some of the kingpins and their followers have been rounded up and are being interrogated by security agencies.
Speaking shortly after the exercise, the team leader for the demolition exercise and the Adviser to Governor Ben Ayade (Southern Senatorial District), Hon Ani Esin, said the kingpin, Kufre Eyo Etim, has been on the watch list of government for a long time now.
Ani said Etim owns a mini estate containing various flats and would do everything possible to get him and all others like him, adding that Erim’s father is with them and giving them useful information.
Insisting that it is no more business as usual Ayade means business, he said: “Etim is amongst the thirty-five persons declared wanted recently by the Cross River state government and we are not relenting in making sure that crime is a thing of the past in the state.
“There shall be no hiding place for criminals, whether cultists, armed robbers, Kidnappers as their assets will be confiscated and demolished. Ayade is serious about ensuring we maintain our status as the safest and tourism destination place in Nigeria.”
However, residents of Calabar have hailed Governor Ben Ayade over the committed fight against crimes and criminality in the state.
A resident, Chief Bassey Nyong, 65, said this is the first time Ayade-led government has taken bold steps to rid the state of cultists and kidnappers who have been terrorising the people for over years.
According to Nyong, a landlord in Calabar Calabar South, “we commend the government for going thus far in the fight against cultism and plead that there should be no stopping until all those on the wanted list are apprehended.”