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Wheelbarrow pushers protest alleged extortion in Edo

By Michael Egbejule, Benin City
22 January 2022   |   3:18 am
Wheelbarrow pushers in Benin City under the auspices of Wheelbarrow Pushers Association of Nigeria, yesterday, protested against what they regarded as excessive billing

A young man sits atop a wheelbarrow as he awaits a possible customer. Photo: Ifeanyi Ibeh

Wheelbarrow pushers in Benin City under the auspices of Wheelbarrow Pushers Association of Nigeria, yesterday, protested against what they regarded as excessive billing and extortion by some revenue collectors popularly called agbero, who allegedly collect money from them disguising as agents of the Edo State government.

The protest coincided with the ‘End Hardship in Nigeria Campaign’ organised by The Peoples Alternative Movement in Benin.

The wheelbarrow pushers besieged the King’s Square in their hundreds and stopped their members from working as a way of registering their grievances.

Trouble, however, started when they sighted someone pushing a wheelbarrow with loads. They forcefully accosted the person, an action that almost resulted in violence if not for the prompt intervention of security personnel.

Speaking, one Otunba Adebayo, who identified himself as chairman of the association, said the revenue collectors started with N50 per day for a wheelbarrow before they increased it to N700, adding that they now pay to different groups numbering three that come to them in the morning, afternoon and evening.

His words: “We came out today for the protest because of the problem we have been facing in the Oba Market.

“When they started, they were collecting N50. From N50 it is now N700. We are not slaves. That is the reason for the protest. The money they are collecting from us is too much. Government didn’t ask them to collect N700 from anybody. Government did not also tell them to fight anybody, injure people in the market. The embarrassment is too much. If you go to the hospital now, you will see a lot of wheelbarrow pushers lying in hospitals. Some of us have given up the trade.

“How much are we making? Some will rent wheelbarrows for N300 and make at most N3000 while some will not make as much as that. That is how we have been sustaining ourselves in the business. Those that make between N700 and N1000 a day, if you remove N300 how much will now be left for the person? Nothing!

“The protest will last from today last till next week if government does not answer us or do something positive.”

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