Monday, 23 December 2019

Calabar is safe for Carnival, govt replies NLC as chairman regains freedom

The Cross River State government has insisted that the state is safe and visitors are free to come and be part of the state's annual carnival Calabar staying that although there are pockets of security challenges but the security operatives in the state are equal to the challenge. 

This was made known by the Permanent Secretary in charge of security in the Governor's office, Dr Alfred Mboto while confirming the rescue of the state chairman of Nigeria labour congress, Comrade Ben Ukpepi who was kidnap in his house since Tuesday last week. 

According to DAILY NEWS, the Chairman was rescued by a combined security force code named SCOLOMBO on Sunday by 9.15pm at Ikot Edem Odo in Akpabuyo local government area of Cross River State.

The Permanent Secretary in charge of security in the Governor's office, Dr Alfred Mboto also disclosed that 
"He was rescued on Sunday at about 9.15pm in Ikot Edem Odo in Akpabuyo, no ransom was paid. It was the state combined security outfit of the state government called SCOLOMBO that secured his released.

"The state is save, though we may have pocket of security problem, our security agencies are all over the places, we shall have peaceful Christmas and carnival celebrations, people should not be afraid of the anything, we are on top of every situation" he stated.

Also speaking via phone on Monday, the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo confirmed the rescued of the victim saying that the he (NLC Chairman) was alive and healthy. "No ransom was paid. Though we have not arrested anybody but we are on the trail of them. Soon we shall pick them up" she said.

It should be recalled that the Nigeria Labour Congress had said the state is no longer safe for its annual carnival and the festivity this festive season while accusing the Cross River State Governor, Prof Ben Ayade for not showing concern over the kidnap of its Chairman, Comrade Ben Ukpepi.

In a WhatApp message issued and sent to the Permanent Secretary in charge of security, governor's office, Calabar, Dr Alfred Mboto on Saturday, the Vice Chairman of NLC Comrade Lawrence Achuta regretted the action of the State Governor.

"Today makes it the 5th day that he has been in captivity. Permit me to further State here that His Excellency has not shown any form concern, despite our letter to him about 12 hours after the incident.

"In the past 7 days, we are informed of about 5 Kidnapped 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 you that we cannot guarantee industrial peace in Calabar during this festive period; as we cannot pretend to glory, in the name of Carnival, when people are kidnapped in the State almost on daily basis.

"We pray you reach His Excellency, in order to avoid any unpleasant reactions from the Labour Community. The State is no longer safe for us, Sir. God bless" the NLC Vice Chairman said.

When DAILY NEWS spoke with the Permanent Secretary Dr Alfred Mboto via phone on Saturday evening, he said regretted that NLC could sent such official matter to him through WhatApp.

"To me, that is personal communication between me and him, I cannot tender that to the Governor. I am not in position of any letter from the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), I have not been serve with any letter at all.

"What I saw was a text message in my phone from the Vice Chairman of the NLC that is not official communication. He said that they have not guarantee industrial peace in this Christ Mass period.

"We are as government have tried our best to make sure that there is peace, security and safety, the security agencies have beefed up security and intensified patrol with a view to ensuring that the victim and other persons kidnapped are rescued and release

"Government was doing everything humanly possible to make sure that those kidnapped are released and rescued. To me, I don't think that threat is going to be productive.

"He sent the text through his whatapp and that I should inform the governor about their plan but it would have been good and makes it official if he writes it so that I can make available to the Governor, I saw this as personal communication between me and him, it is not official" he stated