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Nnewi residents in mass protest against incessant kidnapping

 *Traders Association demands troops’ deployment

By Vincent Ujumadu

AWKA — COMMERCIAL activities were, yesterday, paralysed in the industrial town of Nnewi in Anambra State as markets, banks and courts were closed down in protest against incessant kidnapping in the area.

Traders from various parts of the country, who were in the market noted for motorcycle and vehicle spare parts, were taken aback as the town looked a shadow of itself, with traders obeying the directive of their leaders to remain at home to drive home their point for security operatives to rise to the occasion and find solution to the problem of kidnapping in the town.

At about 9a.m., doctors at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, lawyers at the High Court complex and traders carried placards and marched round some places in the town, calling on the authorities concerned to do something immediately before everybody that had something to do in Nnewi flee to other cities in the country where their safety could be guaranteed.

Placards

Some of the placards waved by the protesters read, “Police can no longer maintain peace in Nnewi”, “IG, please come to our rescue”, “Lives of people at Nnewi no longer safe”, “Doctors say no to kidnapping”, “Kidnappers leave lawyers alone”, “Corruption and unemployment breed crime”, “Government do something about kidnapping” and “Kidnappers paralyse business in Nnewi”.

President of Nnewi Traders Association, Chief Gozie Akudolu, said the business community and professionals in the town decided to protest because commercial activities at Nnewi were grinding to a halt as a result of kidnapping that had become the order of the day.

According to him, no fewer than 62 notable importers have fled the town in the last few months when they could no longer live with the fear of being kidnapped.

“On behalf of the traders, I want to say that the protest and closure of the markets will continue until we get an assurance that our security is guaranteed. As it is, everybody is afraid to do his genuine business at Nnewi and we no longer sleep with our eyes closed.

“We are tired of paying millions of naira as ransom to kidnappers when we have the Police to protect us.

“The Inspector-General of Police should remove most of the policemen in Anambra State because they are no longer in a position to fight crime in the state, as they are only after the money they collect at the numerous check points.

“If the Police are incompetent to handle the issue, the Federal Government should deploy soldiers to Nnewi to maintain law and order,” Akudolu said.

Commisioner of Police speaks

Commissioner of Police, Mr. Philemon Leha, who also addressed the protesters, said nobody should be happy with the situation of things in Anambra State in terms of the failure of security.

“I was worried when I learnt that the entire markets and courts in Nnewi were closed down. I am also worried that the problem of kidnapping has continued despite the efforts of the Police to fight crime in the state,” the Commissioner said.

According to him, the IG had on several occasions summoned all the Police Commissioners in the South-East Zone over the matter, while the governors of the zone have also been deliberating on the issue.

He added that the IG, who is from this zone, is highly disturbed.

He also said that all members of the State Security Council would address all the stakeholders at Nnewi today on the issue and assured the people that a lasting solution to the problem would soon be found.


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