Open Letter to the Executive Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu
“The Salvation of the oppressed lies not in the hands of the oppressors but in the hands of the oppressed” – Chidi Nwosu, Founder, HRJPF.
GOVERNMENT COMPLICITY; AIDING HOOLIGANISM, EXTORTION AND FACILITATING ANARCHY.
Sir, in as much as Abians voted en masse for you due to your apparent pedigree as an educated and enlightened politician with supposed good knowledge and understanding of the need of the people of Abia State, we have to confess that many Abians are impressed with some of the programmes your administration has implemented.
However, many of us are saddened by many perceived ills which given your background, were not expected to be present in your administration.
These perceived ills include reports of lack of democratic dividends, lack of transparency and accountability, multiple taxation, unlawful extortion and more especially, the current intimidation of poor tricycle operators and contravention of their rights to freedom of association within Aba metropolis.
Based on the aforesaid, we at CEHRAWS in line with our mission of promoting good governance and a wholesome society wish to draw your attention to an observed incessant and illegal extortion of the populace by agents or thugs under the guise of the Abia State Government revenue collectors in connivance with some security operatives who go about setting up tricycle parks, popularly known as ‘pits’ (loading and unloading points) which we believe you are not aware of.
These thugs persuade the tricycle operators within the said pits to register with their street unions, impose levies on them and use the security operatives to terrorize and intimidate those who refuse to yield to their demand by arresting, detaining and also impounding their tricycles.
Most times, the very unfortunate ones have one crime or another imposed on them, taken to court unexpectedly and remanded in prison custody in a bid to instill fear in them. All these could cause anarchy in the nearest future if there is no urgent and reasonable intervention. This harassment is indirectly jeopardizing the legal reason for approving some tricycle operators’ associations by Abia state government.
Sir, it might interest you to know that there is no specified or designated bus/tricycle stops in Abia state especially in the city of Aba and it has broadened TIMAAS the opportunity of impounding vehicles and tricycles with impunity as alleged.
All these while, tricycle operators have been experiencing all kinds of abuse and intimidation in the hands of state actors (security personnel & Government officials) and some non state actors (thugs, approved & non approved tricycle associations) without considering their welfare and rights.
Government, directly or indirectly has left tricycle operators to be used by these crime perpetrators (thugs and political allies) as stated earlier to go about enriching themselves by feasting daily with impunity on these vulnerable tricycle operators.
It is obvious that the activities of these people unlawfully empowered by government as alleged are inflicting immeasurable pains on the masses and the tricycle operators in particular; in other words causing more hardship on Abians.
This is appalling, uncalled for, a gross abuse of citizens fundamental human rights and a deviation from the Ease of Doing Business Policy of your administration; thus, the lead cause of revenue leakages, tax evasion and hostility among lawful citizens.
The ugly situation has gotten to an irritating level to the extent that these persons or thugs station themselves in all the major streets of Abia state and Aba in particular to forcefully extort money from tricycle operators at the tune of twenty naira (N20) per loading coupled with other unlawful monetary expenses.
Aba appear to be the epicenter of the stated barbaric and shameless activities which are gradually becoming a culture and a business venture for the perpetrators and other crime-interested persons who have become so wealthy and known to be among the city fathers facilitated by the proceeds of this illegal venture marred with intimidations, extortions and gross abuse of citizen’s rights. ‘WHAT AN IRONY’.
However, we are certain that your Excellency, the Executive governor of Abia State, who is known for his exceptional passion for the betterment of Abians would urgently address this unhealthy situation to help minimize the effect of Covid-19 pandemic on Abians and also strengthen the already established daily E-revenue remittance system of these operators to avoid revenue leakages and as well boost the state’s internally generated revenue.
According to our record, recently at the popular Okpulor-Umuobo Road, off Aba-Owerri Road/Umungasi, a certain Chief Ahamefula Jombo (A.K.A Nwa Ka Ibeya) and his thugs obstruct the free movement of tricycles whose operators are not registered with his street union, impound, arrest and detain same with the assistance of the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Abayi Police Station, in other words, aggravating the difficult condition of these operators.
And contrary to government’s intention of initiating its use for commercial transportation in Nigeria to help alleviate poverty, Abia state seems to be on an entirely different page as some government officials use this laudable initiative to enrich their political allies or thugs and indirectly impoverish the operators, making life more difficult for them and their loved ones.
Unknown to you, Sir, these selfish attitudes of some of the state actors have continuously reduced the huge revenue the state stands to generate from this venture, by making the operators and the masses to see them as their enemies.
Your Excellency Sir, we are very optimistic that you would not delay in looking into the afore-raised issues. Abia is blessed to have a scholar like you, a lover of God and a perceived human investor to steer the mantle of leadership in this our time.
Please, let no individual or group of persons mar your unique personality, the image of your administration or rather ridicule your efforts in taking Abia to an enviable height.
Sir, Abians will really appreciate it if your administration could make public, the total daily levy to be paid by every tricycle operator before they could operate through the streets of Abia. This will frustrate the efforts of those thugs who hide under your administration to extort tricycle operators.
Appeal and cause of action:
We respectfully urge you to:-
1. Speedily exonerate your person and administration from all the unlawful acts perpetrated on tricycle operators by the said Chief Ahamefule, Abayi Police Station and their likes in Abia who are not captured here and also make them to face the law and tender public apology to the tricycle operators, your administration and Abians at large.
2. Also instruct the commissioner of Police to strictly caution the officers of NPF in Abia state and Aba in particular, to reduce the level of high-handedness applied in the discharge of their duties, as well as stop using Abians as their cash cow, especially the tricycle operators.
3. Close all the existing tricycle operators street union/loading pits and put a stop to the incessant extortion of these operators for loading and unloading their passengers.
4. Mandate the leaders of all government approved tricycle operators’ association in Abia State to control their members who are known for their crazy usage of our roads and other criminal activities, in order to reduce the level of nuisance they constitute to other road users and the society at large, thereby compelling them to utilize the huge resources in their disposal to usher in innovative ways of curbing the aforesaid menace instead of enriching themselves with it.
CEHRAWS, in line with our resolve to promote good governance, which we are inclined to believe, is the bedrock of your administration, would stop at nothing to ensure that the rule of law prevails and would hold your administration accountable if the raised issues are not given prompt attention.
We shall continue to promote zero tolerance to all forms of abuse, criminality, and intimidation, but support the entrenchment of equal rights and justice by ensuring that the civil rights of the law abiding citizens are not trampled upon.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we look forward to the prompt attention and quick result your office and person is known for.
Okoye, Chuka Peter
Centre for Human Rights Advocacy & Wholesome Society (CEHRAWS)
Who we are:
Centre for Human Rights Advocacy and Wholesome Society (CEHRAWS), is a private not-for-profit, non-religious and non-partisan organization. We are also an affiliate member of Abia Civil Society Network (ACSON), an umbrella body of civil and human rights organizations in Abia State.
We hereby use this opportunity to draw the attention of Your Excellency Sir, to the above caption as a body committed to the entrenchment of democracy, respect for rule of law and the protection of the universal human rights of Nigerians.
In cognizance of the fact that the attainment of the noble objectives of realizing a democratic and wholesome society will remain a mirage, unless all legal tools are domesticated, properly utilized, implemented and strictly adhered to. Otherwise, corruption, intimidation, extortion and other forms of illegalities will never be eliminated in our society.