Drivers protest incessant kidnapping of colleagues, passengers in Enugu

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More than 100 drivers plying Opi-Nsukka, Enugu road on Tuesday blocked the highway, causing traffic grid as they protested against the constant kidnapping of drivers and passengers on the road.

Motorists, tricycle operators, motorcyclists and their passengers were stranded for more than one hour as the protesters chanted solidarity songs, asking federal and Enugu state governments to aid drivers, passengers and others.

Some peaceful protesters carry placards include: “The primary duty of any government is to protect lives and property.

“The Air Force should join hands by using helicopters to locate hideouts of these kidnappers.

“Last week alone, three drivers and many passengers were kidnapped.”

A Sienna commercial driver, Mr Ben Onyeke, said the protest was to bring the attention of Mr Peter Mbah, the Governor of Enugu State, to what drivers plying Opi-Nsukka Ogbogo Enugu road had been going through with their passengers recently.

“This road has become kidnappers’ den as drivers and passengers are abducted on this road on daily basis.

“Last week, three of Sinna commercial drivers were kidnapped on this road and ransom paid before they were released.

“Some of our drivers who escaped from being kidnapped have their body and buses ridden with bullets by these hoodlums,” he said.

Mr Chujwudi Offia, leader of the protesters, said that because of constant kidnappings on the Opi-Nsukka Enugu road, many people now feared to travel on the road for fear of being kidnapped.

Offia said this had affected their patronage of passages as they now struggle to get passengers in their park.

“We are using this protest to tell the Enugu State government and security agencies to rise up to their responsibilities by ensuring that these criminals are attested and prosecuted.

“The first duty of every government is to protect lives and property, so government should protect us from these hoodlums.

“Many of our drivers, passengers and other road users have been kidnapped on this road with ransom paid before they regained freedom.

“We are doing this today so that Nigerians will hear our voice as we don’t know the next driver that will be kidnapped on this road that has become kidnappers’ den,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Cosmos Agbo, a transporter, businessman and community leader from Opi, described the kidnapping on that road as unfortunate.

Agbo said he narrowly escaped from being kidnapped on the road last week and was yet to recover from the shock.

“Government’s primary responsibility is to protect lives and property of citizens; Enugu State Government should act fast to bring activities of these criminals to an end.

“The state employed people who work as Forest Guards; government should direct the forest guards to go into the bush to flush out these kidnappers.
“If kidnappers have taken over the bush in the state, the question is, which bush are forest guards guarding in Enugu state,” he said.

The community leader, however, urged the 10th National Assembly to quicken the passage of community and state police bills to reduce the country’s security challenges.

“Community and state police will go a long way to address issues like kidnapping, banditry, insurgency and other crimes in our communities.

” The 10th assembly should quicken the passage of community and state police bill before security challenges in the country get out of hand,” he said.

In a reaction, Mrs Stella Ogbonna, a private motorist going to Enugu from Nsukka who was among those stranded during the protests, commended the protesters for raising the alarm about what was happening on the road.

“Even if the protesters blocked this road for the whole day just to bring the attention of appropriate authorities to an end to the daily kidnapping happening on this road, I will not complain.

“I commend the drivers for the protest; they are doing it for everybody since nobody knows who will be the next victim; enough is enough on kidnapping on this road,” Ogbonna said.