Buses attacked by hoodlums in Ebonyi

Commercial transport operators across Nigeria have resolved to withdraw services from aEbonyi State, beginning today Thursday, October 07, 2021, in protest against attacks on members by thugs said to be working for the state government.

National chairman of the Association of Mass Transit Operators (AMTO) Chief Gregory Inyaba who made the declaration in Enugu on Wednesday said the blacklisting followed unprovoked attacks on staff and facilities, particularly vehicles of members by cultists and thugs allegedly engaged by the Ebonyi State Government officials.

According to him, staff of transport companies in the state capital have been decapitated and numerous vehicles damaged since attacks by government-approved thugs began the onslaught against transporters on Tuesday.

Inyaba who spoke at the end of an emergency meeting of AMTO executive at its national headquarters in Enugu, said members of Public Transport Owner Association of Nigeria, were also part of the boycott decision.

“From Thursday, October 7, 2021, no commercial vehicle shall go to Ebonyi or leave the state,” he said.

“The government of Ebonyi State has asked us to leave the state and we have no choice but leave the state for them henceforth.”

Inyaba regretted that vehicles belonging to members, with passengers, from other states were similarly attacked on Wednesday.

“How can you attack vehicles coming into Ebonyi with passengers from other states? It means we can’t bring in people in safety and comfort, and that is a declaration of hostility,” he noted.

He directed members of all transport unions in other states of the country to note the directive to boycott Ebonyi State from Thursday, and comply accordingly.

“Do not load passengers from anywhere to Ebonyi State, and members who are inside Ebonyi State must not load passengers out of the state, no matter the circumstances,” he restated.

The union condemned the attempt by the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Transport to force their members to abandon their well-developed premises/depots within the state capital and move to virgin farmland in the outskirts, without first developing the premises.

Attacks on commercial buses in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi state capital intensified yesterday (Wednesday) as armed thugs working for the state government smashed up additional vehicles in apparent determination to force operators out of the capital territory vicinity.

Mass transit owners and businesses in the state capital have been under siege since Tuesday when Commissioner for transportation Onyebuchi Nwebonyi led daredevil thugs around the Abakaliki township, smashing up vehicles, and forcefully sealing up private car parks, in a move that caught operators off grand.

The week earlier, he had ordered owners of transport business to move to the undeveloped premises on Ikom Road, very far from Abakaliki, an order allegedly sanctioned by the state government.

Talks about the relocation had been muted and seemingly farfetched because the proposed site remained virgin farmland, fully covered with grass and seasonal un-harvested crops.

Each operator had paid various amounts of money ranging from N1 million Naira to N4 million Naira for spaces in the proposed new park, but no development had begun there, making the sudden quit notice out of the capital city, inexplicable, according to the operators.

The attacks by the thugs on operators on-premises and facilities of operators at Abakaliki which began on Tuesday continued yesterday (Wednesday) as more buses belonging to operators were vandalized by the rampaging thugs.

Almost all operators had had many buses smashed up since Tuesday. PMT was the worst hit, had eight vehicles damaged on the first day, and two yesterday.

Ebonyi State chairman of the Association of Mass Transit Operators (AMTO) Fred Nwogbaga said a scheduled meeting of the state Exco members with the commissioner, Eze Nwachukwu Eze, ended abruptly when the commissioner allegedly excused himself.

“We shall continue to seek to engage the state government to end their brigandage” he promised. “It is so painful to willfully destroy the investment of law-abiding entities, without justification”