By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa – Commercial tricycle operators in Yenagoa on Tuesday staged a protest against alleged killing of their colleague by members of a task force set up by the state ministry of transport.
The deceased, simply identified as Mike, was said to have been arrested on Monday by the task force over an allegation that he did not have a unified sticker.
He was said to have been taken to the Bayelsa Transport Company premises in Swali area of Yenagoa where he reportedly died in the hands of the task force members.
One of protesters, Mr John Duke, said at the entrance of the state secretariat complex on Mbiama-Yenagoa Road, where the protesters gathered, that the riders were being oppressed by the task force and policemen.
He said, “We are protesting because the oppression is too much; discrimination against Keke riders is too much.
“We are angry today because the task force killed our colleague.
“They killed him yesterday at Swali. We want the government to look into it. The government should restrain the task force and policemen.”
The operator also claimed that they paid exhorbitant levies to the state government.
“We buy a sticker for N7,000 per year, we pay N200 for a daily ticket and ministry of transport collects N1,700 per year,” he said.
Checks by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) indicate that there are over 15,000 tricycle operators registered with the ministry of transport.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa Police Command said it arrested two members of the task force over alleged involvement in the death of the tricycle operator.
The command made the disclosure in a statement signed by its Public Relations Officer, SP Asinim Butswat.
“Preliminary findings reveal that the suspects, while on official duty, for revenue collection, on Sept. 14, 2020, impounded a tricycle with MOT NO. 0617, on Imiringi Eoad, Yenagoa, for failure to obtain a unified sticker.
“Consequently, the tricyclist went to the task force’s office at Swali, Yenagoa, and thereafter started spitting out some substances, slumped and became unconscious.
“The victim was rushed to a hospital for treatment where he eventually died,” the command said.
It added that the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Mike Okoli, had addressed the protesters and assured them of a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the death of their colleague.