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Ebonyi Keke Operators Protest Against Extortion, Government’s Multiple Levies

From Ignatius Okpara

ABAKALIKI, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER)Over 1000 tricycle operators in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, South East Nigeria, ‎ on Wednesday blocked the government house gate and disrupted vehicular movement, in a protest against alleged alarming multiple taxation and extortion by the Government agents.

The Keke Drivers as they are fondly called in Nigerian parlance alleged that they were being harassed and intimidated by the so called agents for not complying with the payment of N3,400 fee by the State’s Ministry of Works.

The operators besieged the government house gate, blocked it, before also going to block the entrance of the Ministry of Works, so as to prevent the Commissioner, Engr Fedelix Nweze and other government officials from gaining entrance to the Ministry.

Some of the protesters who spoke to newsmen, said they were in the government house to ascertain if the multiple levies was actually imposed on them by the State government and to urge Governor David Umahi to intervene, as well as wade into the leadership crisis currently rocking the association.

The action also affected residents of the city who are not mobile, as they resorted to trekking of long distance, especially civil servants.

They lamented the continued harassment and intimidation of their members who currently suffer in the hands of the state government agents, who continue to make life unbearable for them.

 “It is regrettable and unfortunate that in most cases, when they impound our tricycle and we are asked to come to their office, when you get there, it is either your keke would be missing or you won’t see the battery again.

“Daily, we get reports of missing seized Keke, the tyres, radio sets among others.

“When we make inquiry on the way about of the missing Keke, we will not get positive answer. We decided to come to government house to peacefully protest to the government and for them to come to our aid”.

Unfortunately for them, all efforts to hear from the State’s Deputy Governor, Barrister Kelechi Igwe, who is currently the Acting Governor of the state hit the rock, as he did not come out to address them.

However, after staying at the Government House gate for over 1 hour, the Senior Special Assistant, SSA to Governor Umahi, on security, Mr. Kenneth Ugbala,  mobilized armed security men  to disperse  the protesters from the gate to pave way for government functionaries into the government House.

Ugbala said that there had been leadership crisis in the union in the last one year, adding that government had to dissolve the two factions to allow peace reign within the union.

 

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