Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
Transport operators under the aegis of Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria, and commuters have lamented rising incidents of kidnapping and armed robbery attacks on the country’s highway.
The duo regretted that drivers and passengers were being target by hoodlums suspected to be Fulani herdsmen who block the highway, rob and kidnap victims at will without any challenge from security agents.
The National Chairman, Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria, Chief Joseph Ejiofor, while briefing newsmen recalled that the robbers always attacked their drivers and passengers along Benin bypass, Lagos-Abeokuta road, Omotosho-Ijebu-Ode axis, Abuja-Keffi, Abuja-Kaudna, Abuja-Nassarawa, Makurdi and Elele-Port Harcourt highways, among other places.
He said that the security challenges facing the group were enormous, urging security agents to intensify patrol and surveillance on the nation’s highways to curtain the activities of the men of the underworld.
Ejiofor said the call became imperative following the incessant attacks his members and commuters were facing almost on a daily basis.
He said the frequent attacks were affecting the economic and social activities of his members and Nigerians in general, and urged that drastic measures be taken to overcome the security challenge.
He recalled that the criminal elements operated unmolested with dangerous weapons including sophisticated guns and machetes.
“They block the roads, divert vehicles and passengers into thick forests unchallenged and unleash terror on them. Sometimes the victims are held for up to a week.
“Some of them (operating) at Benin by-pass even confessed to a victim, one Anthony, recently that they were Fulani herdsmen, who had lived in the bush for many years.
“They also claimed that security operatives knew that they occupied those forests and so, nobody would come to their rescue unless they parted with ransom or they lost their lives.
“The disturbing aspect of a recent Benin by-pass attack was that a victim, who returned from the United States of America vowed never to come back to Nigeria again unless the security condition improved,” he claimed.
Ejiofor described the recent killing of the former Chief of Defense Staff, Alex Badeh, as “a sad development and condemnable in all ramifications.”
He noted that Badeh’s killing was one of such dastardly acts of the highway hoodlums.
“A joint patrol of the Nigerian Army, Navy, Police, DSS and armed Civil Defense personnel should mount surveillance and carry out regular patrol to tackle this ugly trend, especially during this Yuletide.
“We have absolute confidence in the Nigeria Police to neutralise the activities of these fearless hoodlums, who have continued to terrorise our highways,” Ejiofor stated.