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Kidnapping: Traders Close Down Shops In C’River

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Traders under the aegis of Calabar Traders Union have persistently closed down their shops and markets stalls for two days running in protest over incessant kidnap of their members even as the Cross River State Government has threatened the arrest and prosecution of those who attempt to coerce traders to shut down their shops.
Our correspondent gathered that the latest kidnap of Chief Jude Odinka, who has been in the kidnappers’ dens for the past two months, may have constrained the traders to take the action. They lamented that over 18 of their members have been kidnapped in the last 10 months.
In a chat with Journalists, the Vice President, Electrical Dealers & Allied Product, Akparawa David Esien, said traders have become easy targets.
His words, “we are closing our shops, shades and markets including timber markets, spare parts market/shops, electrical stores amongst others for two days to protest the incessant kidnap of our members.
“We laud the government’s efforts at demolishing houses of kidnappers but the state government must rise up and take the bull by its horn.
We can no longer keep quiet because our members are suffering, some of these traders use loans while some get goods from importers on credit and pay back after selling them.
“But due to the ransom they pay to these criminals, they have become perpetual debtors because it seems they now work for the kidnappers.
Some have paid as high as N7million. We are appealing to Gov Ayade and the police to come to our aid.”
The Chairman, Building Materials Traders Association, Calabar, Festus Mbanu, on his part, said “This is our way of letting the authorities know that most of us no longer go to our shops or business places, because you don’t know if you are the next target. They kidnap us on a daily basis now.
“No one is spared, both male and female. Once you are perceived to be able to pay, you are picked up and you are forced to pay the ransom  for your release. A lot of shops and businesses have packed up already because of this ugly trend,” he lamented.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Spare Parts Dealers Association, Obi Ajuluchukwu, said “some of my members have been kidnapped more than once; even a pregnant woman and many others are still in their dens.

“Over 25 of my members have relocated to Akwa Ibom state. Calabar is no longer safe as it used to be. The two day shutdown is a warning strike. Government should declare a state of emergency on security,” he enthused.
It would be recalled that government had earlier warned against the strike, saying that it would arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons under any guise seen obstructing any trader from opening his/her shop.
A press release signed by the Permanent Secretary, Governor’s Office, Dr Alfred Mboto, read in part: “the attention of the Cross River State Government has been drawn to a plan by some members of Igbo traders  union in the Calabar metropolis to force their members to close their shops for two days with effect from Monday, June 22, 2020.

“Government is also aware of the threat of a N50,000 surcharge by the union on any Igbo trader who opens his or her shop for business within the two days. Their plan is unacceptable to government and government will do everything within her power and the law to arrest and prosecute any person or group of persons under any guise seen obstructing any Igbo trader from opening his/her shop for business in the state on Monday, June 22, 2020 and Tuesday, June 23, 2020.”
Mboto charged traders to disregard the call for strike and advised the striking traders “to encourage the state government on the on-going war against kidnappers, cultists, drug trades, arm robbers and other illegal operations in the state.”
But, the situation on ground indicated the traders did not heed the advice, our correspondent reports.
From Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
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Bayelsa, UK Seek Investment Partnership

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Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has promised that his administration would provide and guarantee the enabling environment for United Kingdom investments in the state.
Governor Diri gave the pledge last Monday when he met with the United Kingdom’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mrs. Catriona Laing, in Abuja.
He requested the envoy to pave the way for British investments in the state in the areas of agriculture, transportation, education, maritime, aquaculture, ICT amongst others.
The governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the relationship between the UK and Bayelsa predated the creation of Nigeria, which was further consolidated by the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities at Otuabagi, a community in the state, by Shell in February 1956.
He however noted that despite Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) being one of the leading oil companies in the state and the long history of economic relations with the UK, Bayelsa had nothing to show as there was no other investment from UK companies in the state.
Diri sought the UK government’s support and collaboration to establish a skills acquisition centre in the state that would train and empower women and youths in carpentry, refrigeration, solar power assembly, fashion designing and masonry.
Other areas are farming techniques for high-yield crops production, aquaculture, ICT as well as mechanical/electrical training.
“With Bayelsa occupying a major portion of Nigeria’s 853-kilometre coastline, the government intends to concentrate on fishery development, particularly deep-sea fishing.Bayelsa State has the best potential in Nigeria for the production of rice, cassava, yam, plantain, banana and palm produce. Our government is therefore embarking on a massive programme to train our youths in modern form of agriculture in order engage them in productive activities and divert them away from militancy, restiveness and criminal activities”, he said
“Bayelsa remains one of the main crude oil and gas production states both onshore and offshore. The state provides the best setting for oil and gas investment. About 60 per cent of Nigeria’s gas reserve is in Bayelsa and the government has resolved to create the best incentives and operating environment for all British investors through Public Private Partnership (PPP)”, he added.
Governor Diri also solicited support for undergraduate and postgraduate scholarship to Bayelsa students as well as inter-city collaboration with either the city of London, Liverpool or Manchester in order to enhance the state’s transportation infrastructure, urban planning and waste management.
“I equally seek grants from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to support the state government’s urban renewal efforts in the provision of potable water, rural electrification, construction of schools/learning materials. We are aware that the FCDO’s Overseas Development Assistance through the Conflict Overseas Stability and Security Fund programme worked through the Social Democtatic Network, an NGO, in some communities in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state to carry out rice farming, which was successful. But this stopped since March 2020 and we wish to request that it resumes, this time, with collaboration with the state government for better results and continuity”, the governor noted.
He commended the envoy for the warm reception and presented a copy of the interim report of the Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission (BSOEC) and an overview of its work, which he said highlighted the challenges Bayelsa people faced from decades of degradation of their environment.
In her brief response, the UK High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, thanked Governor Diri for the visit, saying the mission encouraged collaboration with states and organisations that border on mutual interests.
Laing said the UK was interested in the economic development of Bayelsa, particularly in the area of sustainable agriculture and other areas that the governor highlighted.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Police Arrest Two, Recover 44 Phones, Others In Delta

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The Delta State Police Command has arrested suspected cell phone snatchers in two separate operations in the state.
The command’s acting spokesman, DSP Edafe Bright, announced this to newsmen yesterday in Warri.
He said that one of the suspects identified as Bernard Aloba, was arrested on June 7 by operatives of the Safer Highway Patrol team of the command on the Warri-Sapele road.
“On June 7, 2021 while men of the Safer Highway Patrol team were on stop and search duty on the Warri-Sapele Road”, intercepted one passenger bus of the first suspect simply identified as Amusa.
“On searching the bus and the owner, 20 cell phones, three laptops suspected to have been stolen and one bullet proof material were recovered from a suspect,” he said.
The police spokesman said that investigation was ongoing.
Bright said that the second suspect, Iliyasu Hamzat was nabbed on June 20.
He explained that Hamzat was arrested by men of the Safer Highway Patrol team while on a stop and search duty on the Ughelli-Patani axis of the East-West road.
“On June 20, 2021 at about 1500hrs, while on stop and search duty on the Ughelli-Patani road, intercepted a commercial vehicle.
“While search was on, one of the passengers whose name and address is unknown suddenly jumped into the bush and escaped.
“On searching his luggage, 24 android phones of different makes was recovered.
“However, one of his gang members, Hamzat who kept calling the suspect’s phone to find out what is delaying the delivery of the stolen phones was tactically lured and arrested by the police,” he said.
Bright said that the police have launched a manhunt for the fleeing suspect.

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Tribunal Affirms Victory Of Senator Odey

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The Election Petition Tribunal, sitting in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, has upheld the victory of Dr. Stephen Odey, of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared on December 6, 2020, as the senator representing Cross River North senatorial district at the National Assembly.
The tribunal also demised the petition filed by Joe Agi, SAN, praying the tribunal to upturn the result of the Cross River North senatorial election in his favour, claiming that he is the authentic winner of the contest, having come second in the contest since, according to Agi, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, didn’t have a candidate in the election.
Recall that Agi had approached the tribunal to upturn the election result in his favour and declare him the winner, given the fact that the PDP, the 3rd respondent and INEC, the 4th respondent in the petition, presented two candidates in the elections.
But delivering its judgment, the three-man tribunal headed by Justice Yusuf Ubole Muhammad in suit No: EPT/CR/SEN/03/2020, squashed Agi’s petition and uphold the result of INEC, which declared Dr Stephen Odey as the winner, stressing that Odey, the PDP candidate participated in all the stages of the senatorial contest, and scored the highest votes.
The three-man tribunal, which had as other members Hon. Justice s John Olajide Abe and Gilbert Ngele, averred that Odey, who participated in all the stages of the elections scored 129,207 votes, against his APC petitioner Barr. Agi, who scored 19,105 votes in the said senatorial election, is still the winner of the election.
The Director-General, Cross River State Due Process, Mr. Alphonsus Ogar Eba, while reacting to the judgment at the court premises said, “I am very happy, but happier, because God has come in human form to show Himself in this judgment that has just been delivered.”
Ogar stated that the good thing about the judgment delivered is the fact that the action of INEC on the 18th of December, 2020 which was the plank on which the second respondent, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, has been hinging on, has been declared by the tribunal as a jiggery pockery, stressing that he doesn’t know what those who had never been pleased from the time Odey was declared winner would do.
He described the journey of political opponents as vain expectation, stressing that Odey’s persecutors have stamina and energy for trouble.
He opined that that probably is the reason why the tribunal found no reason to upturn the election result against Odey, who he described as winner of the contest.
He said: “What the court has said today was that the petition Agi (SAN) filed, saying that the PDP had no candidate was not true at all.
“That court found here today that Senator Dr. Stephen Adie Odey was the candidate that was dully sponsored, who participated in all the stages of the election, and was declared winner on the 6th and everything that was done there was perfect and court could not find any reason to upturn that.
“It also went further to say that, because the second respondent Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe’s, name was not forwarded, he did not participate, everything he did was just a nullity and of no avail”.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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