By Godwin Utuedoye,
Operators of commercial motorcycles/tricycles popular known as Okada and Keke riders plying the Oteri-Ughelli Community, Olomu, Jeremi and environs have condemned the gross misconduct and daily extortion of N100 from them at a roadblock mounted at Emurotu Street Junction in Ughelli close to the Ughelli Central Hospital both at day and night by officers and men of the ‘A’ Division of the Nigerian Police and the Vigilante Group.
Expressing their pains and displeasure, a group of commercial motorcyclists that approached this reporter in Ughelli, lamented the oppressive extortion and intimidation perpetrated on them by the police and the Vigilante Group which they alleged, routinely operates in an Ash-Colour Audi Salon car and a Brown-Colour Rover Salon car between the early hours of 5am to 7am and 7am to 11am and 8pm daily.
They said the illegal extortion of money from them by these security agencies has affected their business as most passengers plying the route only pays between N60 and N50, while each of these set of police extort the sum of N100 from each Okada or keke riders. A situation they claim, is becoming a real torture on them and that has affected their operation in that route.
While calling on the authority of the Delta State police command and the Area Commander in the area to wade into the matter, the commercial motorcycles and tricycles operators disclosed that, many of them are presently scared of plying that route as failure to part way with the said amount could lead to impounding of your motorcycle or tricycle which one may spend up to N15,000 before effecting the release. They also noted that the activities of the police joined by the Vigilante Group in the area has also caused untold hardship to residents as most Okada riders finds it difficult to pay the daily extortion of over N200 as both the police in Ughelli ‘A’ Division and Jeremi in Ughelli South Local Government Area frequently mount road blocks on the same road.
Condemning the “mundi operandi” of the police, the transporters stated that, it does not matter whether or not your particulars are intact, all they are after is how to forcefully extort the sum of N100 from you no matter the number of time they mount roadblock or how many sets of police have been there.” It is not easy for us, most of us balance N3,200 daily to banks or those that bought the Keke or the Okada for us, we buy tickets N300 every day, we buy fuel, repair our machines and also strive to take something home to carter for our families, why this intimidation and daily extortion”, one of them asked bitterly.
They alleged that those policemen indulging in the daily and illegal extortion have been in the division for over 20 years and most of them also reside in Oteri-Ughelli community, but wonder why they should be the people punishing them and embarking on illegal activities with gross immunity.
When this reporter visited the area on Thursday, July 19, 2018 between the hours of 9am to 10:30am, the policemen operating in the said Ash Colour Audi 80 volkswagen salon car were seen collecting money openly from motorcyclists, tricyclists and commercial vehicles plying Ughelli-Jeremi with the Audi car with tinted glass parked at the Emurotu Junction.
To ascertain why the incessant road block, this reporter visited the Area Commander office to have a word with him, but the police orderly met at the reception office said he was not available.
Police extortion in Ughelli over the years has been so rampant as they operates in Olori road, Ekuigbo roundabout by St. Theresa’s Grammar School, Ughelli-Oviri-Ogor road, Oharisi primary school by Ughelli Kingdom hall, Oteri-Ovwor road and other areas were they extort money from unsuspecting innocent citizens.