A trader, Mr. Kenneth Ekeanyanwu, has died barely two weeks after he paid N10m as ransom to secure his release from kidnappers in Calabar, Cross River State.
Ekeanyanwu, who owned Daybreak Bakery along Chamley Street in Calabar, was kidnapped by gunmen from his factory on May 6 and was said to have been released on May 11.
It was learnt on Tuesday that Ekeanyanwu was taken straight to the hospital after he gained freedom due to his deplorable health condition as a result of his torture by the kidnappers.
News of the trader’s death is coming one week after Igbo traders threatened to close down all shops operated by traders from the South-East extraction in Calabar to protest against the incessant kidnap of their kinsmen.
A source told our correspondent that the abducted trader died at the Navy Hospital in Calabar.
He said, “Chief Kenneth Ekeanyanwu was released recently after the sum of N10m was said to have been paid to his abductors.
He did not come home after his release because of the injuries he sustained at the hands of his abductors.”
Activities at the bakery located at 23/26 Chamley Street were brought to a halt as uncertainty was written all over the faces of workers.
A worker in the bakery, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, lamented that the bakery had been functioning skeletally since the kidnap of the boss and his eventual hospitalisation after release.
She said, “It has not been easy for us here. Even after they collected that huge money from him they still beat him up badly. He has been in the hospital since they released him and he died in the early hours of today (Tuesday).
“We are in a state of uncertainty as we speak because we don’t know our fate. Everyone here is devastated because oga Ken was a very nice man, down to earth but very prudent in financial management which has kept us in the market.”
When contacted, the President-General, Igbo Community in Cross River State, Chief Albert Enya, expressed shock over the demise of Ekeanyanwu.
He stressed that his death was unacceptable, adding that government must take extreme measure to stop kidnapping.
Enya said, “The news of Kenneth Ekeanyanwu’s death is a big shock to the Igbo community in the state and it is highly unacceptable. The government must intensify effort to completely annihilate this hydra headed problem.
“We want appeal to the Governor Ben Ayade and the Cross River State House of Assembly to pass the law on death penalty against kidnappers as obtainable in states like Anambra, Edo and few others. This is the only way to handle this matter that will serve as a deterrent to others.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. John Eluu, said he was not aware of the development.