From Nosa Akenzua, Asaba
Allegations of extortion and its related activities by the police in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State on Wednesday unsettled the tricycle operators in the area.
Eyewitness Richard Ejiro said that commercial activities and vehicular movement were temporarily paralyzed as the angry tricycle operators took to various streets in the community including the Area Command of the Nigeria Police in Protest to press home their anger against the allegedly continued extortion perpetrated by the police
The protesters were said to have been armed with placards alleging that the police were collecting between N5,000 and N40,000 from violators of a new directive of the state government which had placed a ban on the operators from plying Federal roads in the state.
It was gathered that the Delta state Government through the Ministry of Transport had barely announced the ban on Monday, July 27, 2020 when men of the Nigeria Police force attached to the Area Command swung into action by arresting and collecting money from the operators, some of whom claimed ignorance of the new directives.
The protesters were reported to have barricaded the East / West road, Isoko road and the ever busy post office roundabouts leading to Ughelli Area Command and the Local Government to press home their grievances before the police moved into the situation to placate the protesters.
Speaking to Journalists in the area, Pastor Sunday Okorie said” we are protesting over the Challenges that we are faced with the following series of government’s directives that tend to hinder our effective Operations, and during this Covid-19 period, we have been restricted to carry only two passengers, and Meanwhile some of us are balancing between N1.2million and N1.5 million for the Keke, yet we are complying with the directives of the Delta state government. Now the state government has come up again to say we should not ride on the Federal highways and it is difficult for us to meet up with our daily balancing, the highway is the major route of some of our colleagues and the Police are already capitalizing on this new directives to arrest and extort money from our people”
But the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Hafiz Muhammed Inuwah who Confirmed the Protest to Journalists, dispelled as untrue allegations of extortion among others, adding that the Police were already working out modalities for peaceful Coexistence among the tricycle operators in the area, warning that the Police will not tolerate any act of indiscipline and breakdown of law and order in the state.
Also, Mr Akpevwe Akpos who spoke to our Correspondent on telephone lamented the hardship the new directives by the state government would tell on some of them, adding” for instance, I am paying N1.2million for my Keke because I don’t want to be involved in crime. Some of these tricycles are given by banks and the federal road is our route because we carry heavy loads in other to meet up with our daily balancing, but now with the new directives, the government should find another alternative for some of us”