By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Group under the auspices of International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) had written a letter to Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra state, dated 31st Oct 2022, wherein it decried the unchecked and nefarious activities of troublesome billionaires, violent property grabbers and transporters and their toutish foot-soldiers who are encroaching on, defacing, destroying and conversion of the State Public Legacy Infrastructures into private properties and hideouts where sundry violent and victimless criminal activities are perpetrated and perpetuated.
Intersociety highlighted these social vices in a statement signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair; Joy Igboeli, Obianuju and Chidinma Udegbunam made available to Sundiata Post.
The statement reads in full:
The International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) has raised alarm concerning the unchecked nefarious activities of troublesome billionaires, violent property grabbers and transporters and their toutish foot-soldiers against key public infrastructures belonging to the Government and People of Anambra State.
The Anambra Public Legacy Infrastructures including gardens, perimeter fencing, service parks, beatified tracks, flowering spots, street lightening poles and their electrical appliances etc have come under serious encroachment, destruction, defacing and conversion to private properties. The named violent persons and their toutish foot-soldiers are also stopping at nothing in returning Anambra State from “Welcome to the Light of Nation” to “Welcome to Pigsty and Arena of Lawlessness”.
Intersociety had in a three-page letter to Gov Charles Soludo, dated 31st Oct 2022, drawn the immediate attention of the Gov to the unchecked vicious and criminal activities of the named which include encroaching on, defacing, destroying and conversion of the State Public Legacy Infrastructures into private properties and hideouts where sundry violent and victimless criminal activities are being perpetrated and perpetuated.
The Government Legacy Project Infrastructures under unchecked attack and destruction or conversion to private properties include the about 5 Kilometer-long Anambra State Government Perimeter Fencing covering the right side of Onitsha Upper-Iweka (from Old Aba Park by Onitsha-Owerri Road) to Niger Bridgehead and its left side covering ABC Transport to Niger Bridgehead, Four Onitsha Upper Iweka Gardens (Former MIC-MERAH, Former EKESON, Former Asaba and Former TRACAS Parks), three Service Parks or Parking Lots for private car owners (Ogbogwu Computer Service Park, Carpenters Tools Service Park and Old Benin Park Service Parks), Beatified Tracks between Aba Park/Upper Iweka and Niger Bridgehead and its gardens, Flowering Arenas covering the area and Roadside/Street Lightening Poles and their electrical appliances between Onitsha Niger Bridgehead and Nkpor Flyover Bridgehead/New Tyre Market, etc.
Immediate Action Expected From Government Of Anambra State
Intersociety had in its graphic and facts laden letter called on the Government of Anambra State to immediately and swiftly step in and save the multibillion naira State’s Legacy Project Infrastructures from further vandalism, defacing, encroachment and conversion to private properties. The State Government was also urged to go farther than securing the Government Infrastructures by designating them to routine management maintenance, beautification and protection and regularly rid them of touts, brigands and other criminal elements. The Government of Anambra State was also called upon to immediately embark on massive rehabilitation, electrification and beautification of such key infrastructures and undertake further responsibility of recovering all the ceded portions of the Service Parks, Beatified Tracks, Gardens and Flowering Arenas including flushing out their illegal occupants of and dismantling their erected kiosks and shanties.
The State Government was also urged to embark on painting of the Government Concrete Perimeter Fencing and repair of their pulled down or destroyed partitions. Such paintings should be extended to corrugated fences of the three Service Parks, the four Gardens, Flowering Arenas, Beatified Tracks, Roadside Lightening Poles and road demarcation slabs from Niger Bridgehead to Old Ogbunike Toll Gate so as to give the entrance into the State a decent look and truly project the State as “Light of the Nation”.
Over 15 Partitions Of The Perimeter Fencing Lost Or Destroyed
Recent field checks by Intersociety clearly showed that not less than 15 partitions of the hundreds of millions of naira worth of the Public Perimeter Fencing have been pulled down, out of which not less than ten got destroyed since the inception of the Government of Your Excellency on 17th March 2022. The areas the destruction had taken place include Old Aba Park/Owerri Road/Ogbaru International Relief Market axis; Plastic Market/Onitsha Coca Cola Depot axis and former Premier Breweries axis and Conoil Filling Station by Bridgehead Private Motor Parks axis, etc. It must be remembered that following massive defacing of the both sides of the Onitsha Upper Iweka-Bridgehead of the Onitsha-Asaba Expressway by lawless citizens including troublesome billionaires and violent property grabbers, transporters, market leaders and motor park touts; the then Government of Anambra State under Peter Obi undertook the costly project of erecting concrete and corrugated perimeter fencing from left side of the Old Aba Park at Upper Iweka to Niger Bridgehead and right side of the ABC Transport at Upper Iweka to Niger Bridgehead. The Government perimeter fencing was also done with beatified tracks dotted with silver stones and flowers. Today, not only that the perimeter fencing is under severe attack and destruction but also substantial part of its beatified tracks have been defaced and replaced with kiosks and shanties belonging to private hawkers and traders.
Government Service Parks Defaced And Replaced With Shanties And Kiosks
The three Service Parks built by the Government of Anambra State: Ogbogwu Computer Service Park, Carpenters’ Service Park and Old Benin Park Service Park all located at Bridgehead Market near Onitsha Niger Bridgehead have been abandoned, defaced and converted to shanties and kiosks and ceded to traders, motor park touts and hawkers. Apart from the fact that all their fancy metal fencing and corrugated entrance partitions have been pulled down, shanties and kiosks have dotted their substantial portions and become hideouts for sundry social vices and criminalities.
There has also been secret ceding of their portions to private individuals as well as privatization and diversion of parking tolls being generated. At Ogbogwu Computer Service Park, portions have been secretly allocated to private persons, same goes to Carpenters’ Tool Service Park and Old Benin Park Service Park where half of their spaces are now dotted with kiosks and shanties ceded to sellers of traditional medicine and herbs, Indian hemps and other illicit drugs. The three Service Parks were built by the Government of Anambra State to decongest the area of chronic gridlock and beatify the entrance into the State. The Parks were also built with public restrooms or toilets and exit and entrance points.
Upper Iweka Gardens Now Hideouts For Criminals And Touts
All the four Gardens and Beatified Tracks belonging to the Government of Anambra State have been taken over by street urchins, ruffians, motor park touts and criminals. The four Gardens have also been riotously broken into and defaced. Very soon if urgent steps are not taken by the Government of Your Excellency, the four Gardens and Beatified Tracks will secretly be ceded or sold to violent transporters and troublesome billionaires. It must be remembered Your Excellency, that the four Gardens, original part of the Upper Iweka Flyover design, were recovered from violent transporters during the Peter Obi’s Administration to curb rising rate of fatal accidents, road congestion and menaces of touts and criminals. They were consequently converted to Gardens with beatifications and public restrooms or toilets, etc.
Extortionist Traffic Regulators On Rampage At Upper Iweka-Bridgehead Axis
Your Excellency’s attention is drawn to the above whereby it has been observed that persons deployed to the field by the Government of Your Excellency have converted the State Government’s recently rolled out road traffic policies and regulations into money making venture solely targeting private vehicle owners for purpose of extorting them at will. It has been further observed by our field trip personnel that commercial motorists are allowed to drive anyhow with alacrity including one-way drive between Onitsha Upper Iweka Lagos Park and Niger Bridgehead.
This is to the extent that personnel deployed by the Government of Your Excellency overlook them and focus their attention on private motorists whose cars are impounded at will for ‘parking off the technical side of the Expressway or its two Service Lanes’. The victims include those who park off the Expressway to drop their friends or answer phone calls are recklessly blocked and have their cars impounded randomly and in the end, each of the victims is forced to cough out between N20, 000 and N50, 000 without being receipted or indented procedurally.
Bridgehead Chronic Gridlock Caused By Police, FRSC And Revenue Extortionists
It has been severally investigated and found that the chronic motorized hold-up or gridlock at Onitsha Niger Bridgehead is caused by unchecked extortionist activities by different security personnel and Government and individual toll collectors. The gridlock has chronically become a daily occurrence as different police patrol squads, Federal Road Safety Corps personnel, soldiers and Government and private toll collectors have formed habit of blocking the exit into Asaba and entrance into Onitsha for sundry extortionist activities. The gridlock has also led to several road accidents resulting in the death of dozens of persons in recent times. For instance, on Friday, 28th Oct 2022, no fewer than six-ten persons lost their lives on the same spot when a big lorry that lost its brake from Asaba rammed into a passenger commercial bus with unspecified number of passengers.
The commercial bus was squeezed beyond repair and its boarded passengers crushed to death. Also killed were a Keke rider and his female passenger. Moments after the fatal accident, all the extortionist squads fled the arena resulting in random decongestion of the arena and less than 24 hours after on Sat 29th Oct, the terrible gridlock bounced back after the extortionist squads returned to the scene. The Government of Anambra State was called upon to decongest the gridlock in the area and ban all the extortionist squads from putting the ever busy arena under terror.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria
/s E. Umeagbalasi
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Criminologist/Researcher, Board Chair @Intersociety,
/s U. Igboeli,
Obianuju Joy Igboeli Esquire,
Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Program @ Intersociety,
Chidinma Udegbunam Esquire, Head, Campaign and Publicity Department @ Intersociety.