Police operatives from the B Division Awka yesterday rescued a 60-year-old activist Comrade Osita Obi from armed cultists who stormed Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square Awka to disrupt a meeting of the state governor Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo with tricycle operators in the state.
Reports had it that the Keke drivers were waiting patiently at the foremost square yesterday morning for the arrival of the governor to thank him for the bold step he took to stamp out touting and all forms of illegal revenue collections as well as to intimate him with the goings-on in the field barely one month he took the decision to fight touting to a standstill in Anambra state.
The tricycle operators had all assembled when suddenly two tricycles loaded with about 11 armed young men invaded the venue, identified the said Comrade Osita Obi and pounced on him, beating him mercilessly untill police operatives from B Division Awka came just in time; shooting sporadically in the air and rescued the activist who was almost killed by the cult boys allegedly sent to disrupt the governor’s interface with Keke drivers.
Comrade Osita Obi who is the Convener of Recover Nigeria Project as well as the Coordinator Anambra State Keke Drivers Forum, when our correspondent visited him at the emergency unit of the Anambra State University Teaching Hospital Amaku Awka where he was receiving treatment, said if not for the timely intervention of the police, he would have been a dead man.
Obi who narrated his ordeal in the hands of the cultists, said they were patiently waiting for the governor’s arrival when some armed young men descended on him and hit him with all kinds of weapons with the intention to kill him because he was supporting the governor’s decision to end all manner of illegal revenue collections especially from Keke drivers.
He said, “We gathered at Ekwueme Square to go to Government House to thank His Excellency Prof. Soludo for removing touts and cultists from Keke operation and also to give him feedback on what is happening in the field. So we gathered at Ekwueme Square around 9 O’clock. So around 11 minutes past 9, one Collins Ozojiofor alias Snoop came with some boys to attack me.
“They stole my phone; stole my eye glasses and stole the N50,000.00 I had on me. They beat me mercilessly. You can see my swollen face. I have pains all over me. Their mission was to kill me. Some of the Keke drivers alerted the Police Public Relations Officer who now called the DPO of B Division and they came there and rescued me and took all of us to police headquarters.
“There at the police headquarters, while we were waiting for the Commissioner to come and talk to us, I fainted.
That was how I was rushed first to Government House clinic because I wanted government to be aware of what we are doing. So the Chief Protocol Officer directed that I should go to the Commissioner for Health who also directed that I should come to the emergency unit here.”
Obi, who spoke with our correspondent amidst excruciating pains at the hospital, said the fight against illegal revenue collections was not Soludo’s fight alone; that citizens ought to support him with feedbacks. He therefore thanked the state government for taking care of his hospital bills, saying that he would continue to fight to ensure that revenue touts were completely eliminated from the state.
Also, one Udeh Collins Chidubem, a tricycle driver who gave an eyewitness account, said they were to meet the governor concerning what he described as ruthless imposed leadership of tricycle operators in Awka. He said they had cried to government as well as the leadership of the state union but all to no avail which he said resulted in their protests and coupled with the fact that Governor Soludo had banned acts of touting in the state.
The tricycle operator said the governor’s order was flouted in Awka as touts still terrorised them with all manner of levies. He said they had gathered at Ekwueme Square when some boys came led by one Snoop and attacked Comrade Osita Obi with deadly weapons. He said he alerted the police immediately and they came and rescued the activist, arrested Snoop and two of his boys while others fled.
According to him, Keke drivers have been in agony since the administration of Chief Willie Obiano. That Snoop was not the first weapon of mass destruction allegedly used by moles in Obiano’s administration to unleash terror and mayhem on Keke drivers. That one 2pac was the first but later died. That another person came but resigned due to the wickedness they wanted him to execute.
Chidubem therefore recalled that former Governor Willie Obiano’s first transport commissioner Dr. Christian Madubuko tried to end touting and illegal levies but was warned not to dabble into it and thereafter he was removed from office. Again, he said another transport commissioner of the Obiano administration Mr. Afam Mbanefo was completely overpowered by the clandestine caucus when he attempted to entrench sanity in Keke operations.
He said a tricycle is currently sold for N1.2 million naira coupled with the obnoxious illegal revenues imposed on Keke drivers and at the end of the day, a Keke driver goes home with nothing.
The tricycle driver bemoaned the fact that most of their colleagues operated their tricycles on hire-purchase basis yet touts with the backing of government officials imposed outrageous taxes on them. He however appealed to Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo to grant them justice because they have been suffering in silence for too long now.
He said Keke drivers had been in pains for 8 years now and there was need for the police to do the needful because the said Snoop had been on the run for too long.
According to him, now that Snoop is currently in the State Criminal Investigation Department, police should let justice be done because Keke drivers deserve a breathe of fresh air and do their business with ease while paying all levies directly to government account.
Also, another tricycle operator Mr. Peter Umeh Maduka who operates from Ekwueme junction Awka, said in spite of the attack of the cult boys, they moved on in protest to the government house where the Deputy Governor Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim addressed them because they were told that Governor Soludo was handling other urgent state matters.
Umeh said they pledged their total and unalloyed support to the present administration especially as it concerns paying their taxes and levies but appealed to the governor to save them from the treachery of bloodsucking cultists used to extort money from them in Awka-North and South even though he indicted the former governor’s wife Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano, saying that the former First Lady and her cronies allegedly shared proceeds got from illegal collections from Keke drivers.
When contacted for her response on allegations of sharing proceeds from illegal collections from tricycle operators, the former First Lady Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano told our correspondent via a WhatsApp message that “Whoever said that should better go get their money from whoever used my name to extort money from them. That’s why they are spending money like they are richer than Dangote.”
Meanwhile, the Police spokesman in Anambra DSP Ikenga Tochi said the command was aware of the cult attack at Ekwueme Square Awka. He said the police were just in time to rescue Comrade Osita Obi who was the victim of the gruesome cult attack while some arrests were made too at the scene of the crime.