Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Cross River chapter of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has decried the kidnappings and other violent crimes that have become frequent across the southern state.
The labour union said that due to the rising insecurity, it cannot guarantee industrial peace during the annual festivities in the state, particularly at a time when its state chairman, Ben Ukpepi, has been kidnapped.
Ukpepi was abducted on Tuesday, December 17, at his residence in Akpabuyo local government area of the state by gunmen.
In a statement in Calabar, NLC state Vice Chairman Lawrence Achuta said though the union has written to Governor Ben Ayade on the matter, they have not received any response, saying their Chairman is still being held hostage for five days running.
According to Achuta: “It is about five days now that our Chairman has been in captivity. Twelve hours after his kidnap, we wrote to the Governor and we have not got positive response. In the past 7 days, we are informed of about 5 other kidnap cases in and around Calabar.
“The organized labour community is deeply worried over the deplorable situation in the state. We use this opportunity to inform the general public that we can not guarantee industrial peace in Calabar during this festive period as we can’t pretend to glory, in the name of Carnival, when people are kidnapped in the state almost on daily basis.”
“We pray the Governor intervenes in order to avoid any unpleasant reaction from the labour community. The state is no longer safe for us,” the union official stated, in what appeared to be a veiled threat.
However, Dr Alfred Mboto, the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties (in charge of security) at the Governor’s office, said the state government is working with security agencies to secure Ukpepi’s release from his abductors.
Mboto maintained that the Ayade administration was committed to safeguarding the lives and properties of Cross River residents, assuring that the NLC Chairman would be rescued unhurt.
Also reacting, the Police spokeswoman in the state Command, DSP Irene Ugbo, said the Force’s Anti-Kidnapping and Cultism Unit is working tirelessly to rescue Ukpepi.
She added that the Command has launched a manhaunt for those behind the kidnap.