Save Us from Oshiomhole’s Thugs, Nigerians Cry to Jonathan
Commuters who ply the Lagos-Benin bypass, a federal road and by far one of the best link roads in the country, have described Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State as either a “thug or a hypocrite” following their harrowing experiences in the hands of thugs purportedly working for the state government.
They have therefore called on President Goodluck Jonathan to save them from the hands of these thugs who have made their lives unbearable. They want Federal Highway patrol cops deployed to the bypass to chase away the crooks.
The Benin Bypass, a major road linking the West to the East and South-South states, was constructed by the Obasanjo administration with Tony Anenih as minister of works. It was hailed as one of the marquee achievements of that administration.
However, in recent years the same bypass that has helped to ease the pains of commuters from the South West to the South-south and South East and vice versa has become their source of sorrow. Thugs from Edo State have taken over the bypass, armed with dangerous weapons and harassing motorists, especially private car drivers. They engage in extortion, harassment, assault on motorists and outright robbery.
Their mode of operation is to flag down a vehicle in motion as it negotiates its way into the bypass. It is a form of ambuscade by the thugs who now operate at a very sharp corner of the road from the Benin end making it impossible for any motorist to escape. They stop any driver while trying to negotiate into the Benin By-pass using planks spiked with nails and other sharp objects. If you refuse to stop, your tyres could get punctured and damaged by the sharp objects. And if you stop, the irate thugs, obviously high on crack and alcohol, would attack you, claiming they are officials of an Edo State local government responsible for collecting revenue for the state. They make spurious and utterly strange demands including radio and environmental sanitation permit which official rate they put at N30,000 (thirty thousand naira).
Motorists who fail to produce such permits end up being extorted, robbed and in some cases beaten and vehemently manhandled. A staff of Political Economist magazine was recently manhandled, dispossessed of his money and his driving mirror smashed by these hoodlums who now wear aprons intended to confer on them the status of ‘on-duty’ staff.
Another victim, a Lagos based Catholic Priest, who pleaded not to be named narrated his harrowing ordeal in the hands of the thugs. His vehicle was flagged down by persons he thought were responsible men whereupon he asked the driver to obey. “To my utter surprise they started demanding for papers and permits that they have no business with. I don’t reside in Edo State and I was plying a federal road so I see no reason someone should hold me to ransom on account of very flimsy demands. It is such a shame”, he told our correspondent.
For Marius Duru, an Asaba-based businessman with businesses in Onitsha and Lagos, it is an act the governor of Edo State should be ashamed of. “Oshiomhole cannot pretend he does not know of the existence of this gang of miscreants and robbers. We have been complaining but the governor has turned a deaf ear either because he is using them for election or they are making returns to some anointed officials of the state public office”, he said.
According to him, “this is a federal road and it is wrong for Oshiomhole to allow these boys to harass law-abiding citizens just because they are passing through his state. This is not how a comrade governor should behave”, a visibly angry Mr. Duru who claimed he was assaulted on that road three times last year and once this year told our correspondent.
Political Economist investigation revealed that some commissioners and aides of the governor had brought the matter to the governor’s notice but he brushed it aside. Further inquiries revealed that a serving commissioner in Edo State had been giving the thugs cover because he profits from the proceeds.