Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Members of Luxury Bus Owners Association of Nigeria (LBOAN), on Monday, took to the streets in Onitsha, Anambra State, to protest of killing of a conductor of Ifeanyichukwu Motors along Benue/Nasarawa highway by suspected armed robbers in Army uniform.
The protesters comprising bus owners, drivers, conductors of luxury buses numbering about 100 with leaves and placard with inscription such as “Federal Government should provide security for us on the highway, our business is about to close due to increase of attacks, killings of our drivers, conductors and passengers on highways, Stop killings of drivers: enough is enough, Government, security agents should come our help before it is too late, luxury bus owners say no to killings of drivers, conductors and passengers,” among others.
They marched from the Upper Iweka, Izuchukwu park through Northern park to Lagos park Onitsha, warned that after seven days if the government failed to provide adequate security on the highways especially along Benue/Nasarawa axis it would bring vehicular movement and business activities to a halt by blocking the highway with their buses, saying that they have lost over 20 lives between last year and this year while over 50 persons have sustained various degrees of bullet wounds on the road.
The leaders of the group and the National Taskforce Chairman of the Association Mr. Chigbo Emebo and its South-East counterpart Mr. Uchenna Maduako lamented the incessant attack on their buses and wondered why the gunmen always attack them on check points with police and Army uniform, saying that within one week they witnessed three robbery attacks and the latest was on May 6 when the driver of Ifeanyichukwu motors was stopped at checkpoint and gunmen on Army uniform opened fire on them killing the Assistant driver (conductor) on the spot.
“They are using police and Army uniform to rob our buses, they kill our drivers, conductors and even passengers over the time which we have been managing but it is now getting out of hand. Especially this year between Benue and Nasarawa highway they rob us on a daily basis. Many of our drivers have stopped driving job because of the killings on the road, just yesterday they shot and killed a conduct of Ifeanyichukwu motors, three days ago they robbed and killed two passengers of FG Onyenwe motors.
“The Federal Government and security agents should do something from now till next week and if they failed to provide adequate security then we will proceed on massive protest where we will block the entire roads.”
“We cannot afford to lose where we are feeding our families, we are providing job and employment to many people because there is no luxury bus company that doesn’t have about 200 workers and you know what it means to sack all these people, what will be their fate.
“We are also contributing to the revenue base of the country, we pay taxes and levies, we pay for our plate numbers and licenses, after aviation is luxury buses in terms of revenue and services, so government should provide adequate security on the highway,” Maduako lamented.
The Luxury bus owners also lamented the activities of Customs officers on the high way who always delayed their buses on the road for unnecessary check that made the drivers to pass the black spots very late, saying that their busses doesn’t carry any contraband goods but only carries cloths from Onitsha to the north, stressing that the incessant attack on the road may force them to withdraw their busses on the highway.
Others who spoke on the matter, the Manager of Ifeanyichukwu Motors Mr. Obinna Ihejirika, the South-East Regional Manager of The Young Shall Grow Motors Mr. Kenneth Obianodi, Chairman Luxury Bus Managers Association, Anambra state chapter Mr. Edwin Anierobi, Manager Chi-boy Motors Mr. Joseph Ajagu and Manger FG Onyenwe Aruna Ibrahim urged the federal government and security agents to beef up security along the highway to stop those armed robbers from using their uniform to rob buses on the road.