Road users plying the ever busy Akpoha axis of the Abakaliki-Afikpo Federal Highway yesterday protested against what they described as constant robbery attacks by unknown gunmen along the express road and called for 24 hours police patrol along the axis.
The protest according to the motorist is coming on the heels of the series of robbery attacks by some hoodlums whom they suspect to be members of these community along the major express road in the last 2 weeks.
One of them, a businesswoman based in Owerri Imo state, Mrs. Patricia Anyanwu who plies the road from Owerri to Abakaliki to purchase foodstuff which she sells in owerri regretted the constant fear road users express on getting to the spot as the hoodlums target it’s victims using motorcycles.
Narrating her ordeal in the hands of the hoodlums recently said, “I do come to Abakaliki from Owerri to buy some foodstuffs which I deal on in my state Imo and we have been having ugly experience along the Akpoha axis of the Abakaliki-Afikpo express road. Every motorist and commuters coming to Abakaliki either from Afikpo, Aba, Owerri, Port Harcourt, even those coming from Calaba usually ply the route because the road is in a very good condition”.
“But the moment you approch that Akpoha axis of the road, everyone becomes jittry especially the moment it’s is 7 to 9pm. In the morning hours, because of the presence of a police checkpoint along the axis, the road is safe but the road is usually lonely and the policemen stays in a particular place close to the Development Center Headquarters, the hoodlums will move to a distance far from the checkpoint and terrorise their victims”.
“The hoodlums whom people suspect to be members of that community usually attack their victims using motorcycles. Just last week at about 7:30pm, we were coming to Abakaliki for our usual business, on getting to that point after the police checkpoint, we saw a motorcycle with 3 young men driving on a very high speed coming behind us, we suspected that they are armed robbery following us, as they were coming, we observed another motorcycle driving slowly in front of us, where they came out from, we could not say but we suspect they hid inside the bush along the road”.
“The driver and every commuter became scared, while some were asking the driver to stop, others encouraged him to speed up, to our greatest shock, just few meters to where the motorcycles in front of us were, we observed that our tyres have deflected by nails which they poured on the road. The driver managed to park the car and the six of them just jumped down from the bike and robbed us of all our belongings”.
“Some persons attempted running inside the bush but the terrain of the place is so horrible that you might be drowned because of the heavy flooding along the place or get bitten by snake or another reptile. The hoodlums had a field day, collected all our money, phones and other belongings and immediately zoomed off”.
Another victim, a driver of a State owned commercial bus who spoke to leadership on ground of anonymity called on the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Police to deploy more men to the axis and ensure constant patrol of the road.
According to him: “there is the need for the Ebonyi State commissioner of Police to urgently deploy more policemen to that axis to ensure the security of lives and properties of its citizens especially visitors coming into the state. The rate in which the hoodlums attack innocent drivers, commuters and other road users along that road has become alarming, the attacks is gradually affecting the commercial activities of the area and the ugly situation should be addressed”.
“Policemen deployed to the axis should be encouraged to patrol the road especially between 7 to 10pm because the target of the robbers are usually commercial vehicle that arrives the area between that period. The road is usually safe until 7pm”.
When contacted, the Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Odah said that as at present, the command has a police checkpoint, highway patrol team and a Special Anti Robbery Squad SARS patrol the axis adding that the command would beef up security along the area.
DSP Odah assured the motorist and commuters plying the road of their security of lives and properties especially during this ember month adding that henceforth, the attacks would be brought under control.