Protest rocks Onitsha; Keke drivers, activists rise against police

Posted by News Express | 5 July 2014 | 5,124 times

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Human and vehicular movements were disrupted for hours yesterday at the ever busy Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS) roundabout in the famed commercial town of Onitsha, Anambra State in South East Nigeria. Reason: Members of the Keke Drivers Association (KDA) had taken over the streets to protest alleged police extortion, harassment and illegal detention by the police.

The protesters, dressed in mourning clothes and mouth guards, sang anti-police songs and brandished placards with several inscriptions including “IGP please overhaul Police in Onitsha”, “Police in Onitsha are the most corrupt in the country”, among others.

According to the Chairman of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), South East zone, Dede Uzor, the protest was in collaboration with CD against the police in the city whom he accused of resorting to intimidation, corrupt practices and illegal arrest and detention of tricycle drivers since the ban on checkpoints across the country.

He said that corrupt practices among policemen were more apparent in the commercial city of Onitsha, adding that policemen attached to the Central Police Station, Inland Town and Awada stations have been at the forefront of illegal detention and extortion.

“We are protesting against the illegal and corrupt activities of policemen in this city. They have made Keke drivers to remain perpetually in agony because of massive extortion, illegal detention and other inhuman treatments. It is also pertinent to note that majority of these drivers are driving these tricycles on hire purchase basis and when police kept on extorting them of the money, most of them have had no option than to drop the keke because they couldn’t meet up with the agreement they reached with the owners,” Uzor said.

He called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, to immediately overhaul the entire police stations in Onitsha and bring in new police officers who have not been corrupted.

Also speaking, KDA Secretary, Mr. Chukwudi Obi, lamented the ordeal of keke drivers in the hands of policemen, whom he accused of deliberately arresting their members and in the process extorting money from them at the various police stations before they would regain their freedom.

He called on Governor Willie Obiano and the Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, Mr. Usman Gwary, to look into the matter and call the policemen serving in the police divisions in Onitsha to order.

However, when contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Emeka Chukwuemeka said the policemen in the state are there to maintain law and order. He described the allegations as frivolous and unfounded.

•Adapted from a Saturday Sun report. Photo shows a part of Onitsha during an unrest.

Source: News Express

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