Tricycle Operators Ground Owerri, Protest Alleged FRSC Extortion, Colleagues’ Manhandling
SCORES of tricycle operators, popularly known as Keke, for hours on Friday, staged protests along the popular Okigwe Road, Owerri, capital of Imo State, sacking the officials of the Federal Road Safety commission (FRSC), in the checkpoint.
They caused traffic gridlock, blocking the ever- busy and gateway road.
Meanwhile, two male members of staff of a hotel located along Oguamanam Street, Owerri Municipal Council, were found dead in the morning of Friday.
The deceased persons, Messers. Chima Nnadi of Aboh Mbaise Local Council and Chukwunonso Ebube, were said to have died of suspected food poisoning.
Mr. Anayo Ajele, a security officer in the hotel told The Guardian that the duo had carried out their duties successfully Thursday night (eve of the tragedy).
Director of the hotel, Bennard Abana, said the corpses of the deceased were found dead facing each other, stating that their remains had been taken to the Federal Medical centre (FMC), Owerri, saying only autopsy would confirm the cause of the deaths.
On the protest, the row between the Commission and operators of the tricycles had been on for some days, but it climaxed on Friday when the operators accused the FRSC officials of mounting permanent check point and extort N10, 000 from the operators who have no Drivers’ License and other documents.
The source further stated that one of their members was arrested and beaten to coma, prompting the invitation of the NSCDC men to take allegedly take their turn in beating the young man, shooting him on the leg and arresting him. The victim was said to have been locked up in the corps’ office.
It took the reinforcement of combined team of officers of the police and the NSCDC, to disperse the protesters shooting sporadically on air. The FRSC officials took to their heels on experiencing the danger.
When contacted, the Imo State Command’s Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Andrew Enwerem, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), told The Guardian that the information just came to him, adding that democracy allows protest, but warned that people should not abuse it.
An official of the FRSC told The Guardian that majority of the tricycle operators do not have Drivers’ License, which is embedded in the traffic laws of Nigeria. He said all the entreaties entered with them in several occasions had proved abortive, as they allegedly do not heed to the advice and enforcement. He denied that the NSCDC extort N10, 000 from cyclists.