Some commercial motorcyclists otherwise called “Okada” in Ogwashi-Uku community, Aniocha South local government area of Delta State, have withdrew their services along the Azagba village – Ogwashi-Uku Polytechnic road over increasing rate of police extortions.
It was observed that the road leading to the Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku was last Friday deserted by many commercial motorcyclists, who complained of rampant incidence of extortions by police operatives on the road.
The development, left many students of the Polytechnic who lived in Azagba and Iselle-Azagba villages, stranded, as they depended on the cyclists, being the major source of transportation on the route.
A commercial cyclist, Mr. Uche Ezendu explained that some of the cyclists were forced to withdraw their services on Friday due to the high rate of extortion by two police patrol teams stationed on the road.
“We can no longer bear the high extortion. Everyday, we pay N100 to a SARS patrol team from Asaba and another patrol team from the Ogwashi-Uku Division on the same road.
“This extortion has been on over a long time and nobody is saying anything about the activities of these police teams. They just stationed themselves within a distance of four poles apart.
“Imagine two different police teams mounting a checkpoint on a four kilometer road, collecting N100 each from cyclists, motorists and other road users. This is very outrageous if you ask me.
“We used to charge N200 as transport fare from Azagba to the Ogwashi, and that amount is what we also pay to the police teams on the road, so we are left with nothing after each trip,” Ezendu said.
Another cyclist, Peter Monye also corroborated Ezendu’s position, accusing the police patrol teams on the road of exploiting the cyclists and hampering the ability of the cyclists to meet their daily targets.
“This policemen are making our daily business very difficult on the road.
“Do you know that as early as 7am, the SARS team from Asaba are already positioned, collecting N100 and if you don’t comply, they will seize your bike and keep you there for hours.
“As if that is not enough, the other police team from the Ogwashi-Uku Division, who operates with a white Hilux truck, will also hold you down, just within a distance of 500 meters from the SARS men.”
Monye, who appealed to the state police command to intervene in their plight, said the two police teams usually turn down the cyclists’ plea for a N50 bargain.
He said that the situation had become very difficult for the cyclists, many of who are operating on higher purchase agreement, to operate and render daily accounts to the owners of the bike.
Also, a student of the Polytechnic, Miss Anthonia Ukonu described the activities of the police teams on the Polytechnic road as highly disgraceful to the image of the Nigerian Police force.
She said the activities of policemen on the Azagba-Delta Polytechnic road have forced the cyclists to hike their fare, making it difficult for many students to go to school on daily basis.
“Before now, the bike operators used to charge us between N100 and N150 from Azagba to the Polytechnic, but now they are charging us between N200 to N300 which is very exorbitant considering the short distance.
“But who do you blame, when the police are collecting N100 from the bikemen at two separate location on the same road. imagine today, no bike on the road, and we are stranded,” Ukonu lamented.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the Delta State Police Command, DSP Andrew Aniamaka assured that the command would investigate the allegations, and take necessary action against any officer found extorting motorists.
“We are going to investigate these allegations. First and for foremost, I will reach out to the officers in charge of these two police units mentioned. I will speak with the SARS commander and also, the DPO in Ogwashi-Uku.
“We don’t condone any act of official misconduct, because issues like this bring bad image to the Nigeria Police and we will not allow that,” Aniamaka said.