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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Yahaya Bello boys harass private motorists in Kogi, force them to pay N38,000

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Youths, claiming to be working on the instruction of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kog State, are harassing private motorists in Lokoja, capital of Kogi State.

They force the unsuspecting motorists, especially private car owners to pay between N36,000 and N38,000 before they are allowed to continue their journey.
Information gathered showed that the youths, who operate apparently under the influence of intoxicants, line up the express way, on Lokoja by-pass in large number, stopping and asking drivers of cars that are passing to the East and those passing to Abuja, to pay the money.

One of the victims, who happens to be the Editor-In-Chief of Greenbarge Reporters online newspaper and hardcopy magazine, Y O. Usman was forced to pay the sum of N35,500 on May 25, into the Union Bank of Nigeria, on the account belonging to one Abubakar Mohammed Tenimu for vague charges.

The receipt issued to him by the youths who were obviously high on drugs reads: “received from DBT – 3+2 GN, the sum of thirty five thousand five hundred naira, being payment for Emblem Stickers, State and Local Government papers for the year 2023.” The receipt has as it’s title”Local Government Council, Kogi State,” and is subtitled MOBILE ADVERT REVENUE.
The Greenbarge Reporters online newspaper boss, who was traveling with his wife, identified himself as a private motorist and a Journalist, but the youths would not listen.

One of them said: “it is your brother that put us here to be collecting the money for the state government. There’s no exception.”

While Usman was still trying to make them understand that as a private motorist, no law that compels him to pay any revenue, they made to remove the plate number of the Sienna car he was driving.

They threatened that they would take the car to their office thereby leaving him and his wife stranded.

After being forced to pay the money, he was handed with several papers, receipts, stickers and pamphlets all of which are meant for commercial vehicles and trailers.
The documents were enclosed in a file which is titled: “National File Coverage, Mobile Advert Operators of Nigeria, in conjunction with Bushara Global Concept Solution…2023 Annual Mobile Advert Permit.”
The revenue, according to the file, is for Hackney permit, Gaseous Emission, Signage, Driver/Conductor Badge, Mobile Waste Basket for State Government and Mobile Advert Permit, Loading and Offloading permit, Environmental sanitation/Waste Disposal permit and Radio/TV permit for Local Government.
This was even as another victim, wife of the retired senior manager at the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mohammed Amuju was similar harassed and forced to pay N36,000 before she was allowed to drive pass Lokoja.
Chairman of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Sadiq Abubakar also narrated how the same set of youths stopped him in Lokoja, demanding the payment of N38,000.
“When I identified myself as chairman of Road Transport Owners, they (the youths) allowed me to pass, but still asked me to give them something, and I gave them N5,000.”
Alhaji Sadiq, who is a traditional title holder of Onobobanyi, said that he was not aware of any legal framework under which the rampaging Youths in Lokoja are operating.
Reacting to the development in a telephone chat, the officer in charge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) branch, Ebele Nwokocha, popularly known as General, expressed shock that the youths in Lokoja have turned a well thought-out unified revenue generating venture into attacking private motorists that are passing through the town.
The programme, he said, is a joint venture between the 366 local government councils of the country and private firm to stop double taxation for commercial vehicles, including trailers and other heavy duty vehicles.
“The programme has nothing to do with private motorists, and any of the boys who collect money from private motorist in the name of the programme is committing illegality.”
He promised to investigate the matter, saying “I will get to the bottom of this matter.”

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