Taxi drivers protest killing of member by Task Force in Rivers

Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt

Taxi drivers along Rumuokoro axis of Obio/Akpor local government area of Rivers State, on Monday took to the street and blocked the entire Rumuokoro roundabout hosting one of the many flyovers in Port Harcourt.

The deceased Taxi driver was allegedly beaten to death by operatives of Governor Nyesom Wike’s State Taskforce on Road Congestion on Sunday.

The protest stalled business activities and vehicular movements, leaving commuters stranded at the popular Rumuokoro flyover early Monday morning and for several hours.

Thousands of commuters were forced to trek long distances to their various destinations due to the protest while motorists made detours to avoid the gridlock caused by the protest.

The drivers under auspices of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Rivers State branch said the driver was killed on Sunday.

Armed with sticks and placards with the inscriptions such as: “No more Taskforce”, “Wike save us”, “We’re tired of Extortion” and others they ensured that no vehicle accessed the Rumuokoro roundabout a major road artery connecting Rivers state to other neighbouring states through the East-West and Port Harcourt-Owerri roads.

They chanted war songs, demanding the state government intervention and compensation for their slain colleague.

One of the protesters, who identified himself as Emeka Ibe and claimed to be the brother of the victim, said the deceased was physically assaulted by the Task Force officials who hit him on his head with a stick.

Ibe said; “My brother had finished loading passengers and pleaded that they should allow him carry a friend in the front. The Taskforce people refused, punctured his tyres and removed the battery of his vehicle. Due to the beating, my brother slumped. He was rushed to a nearby private hospital in Rumuodomaya from where he was referred to UPTH where they confirmed him dead at about 3 am this morning.”

Another driver who identified himself as Wale said; “The man killed is such a quiet man. He was severely beaten and his head was hit on a concrete tarred road. We are tired of the high-handedness of the Taskforce”.

He also confirmed that they had reported the matter at Divisional Police Station in Rumuodomaya, headquarters of Obio-Akpor local government area.

It however took the intervention of soldiers to disperse the protesters from the roundabout and clear the blockage to ensure free flow of traffic.

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