BY:Nick Nwaneri, Calabar
A group of stakeholders from different organisations in Cross River State, have issued warning to the Federal Road Safety Corps personnel in the state to quit all federal roads and dismantle its Mobile Courts or face a civil action.
The groups are drawn from the Cross River State chapter of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Civil Society Organizations, Taxi Union, National Union of Road Workers (NURTW) and all road users in the state.
They have threatened to embark on a civil action two weeks from now if it fails to withdraw from all federal roads as well as dismantle all mobile courts.
In a press statement dated March 9 by YPP and signed by its Chief Servant Comrade Anthony Attah and Secretary Comrade Ogar Oko on behalf of other stakeholders, organisations and the masses warned the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs), Police Traffic Control Officers (Yellow Fever), the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), Civil Defence and others that litter the streets of Calabar allegedly extorting money from motorists in the name of checking vehicles, particulars, driver’s licence and others.
The statement said, “It is no more news that in the last four years or so, the activities of the Federal Road Safety Corps FRSC) has become not just a menace but the worst nightmare to Citizens of Cross River State. The extortionist mission is clearly the most excruciating pain added to the already crushing effect of the economic meltdown”.
“It is worrisome to note that our state roads are littered with VIOs, men of the Nigerian Police Force, Civil Defense etc. who take their turn to ransack cars on the road as part of security and other safety checks. This excessive vehicular interception is responsible for all sorts of avoidable traffic congestions leading to unnecessary delay in commercial activities in the state.
The foregoing predicament is further exacerbated by the duplication of functions by officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps who are meant to operate exclusively on Federal roads. It is appalling that an agency saddled with the safety of road users is more engrossed in revenue generation than preservation of human lives. Consequently, their desperation to extort money from motorists has led to uncountable loss of lives and properties as well as hampered commercial activities in the state”.
Touched and troubled by this exploitative trend and as a political party driven by public concern and the voice and hope of the common man, the groups said, “we are compelled to give two weeks ultimatum to the Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Corps, Cross River State Command to put an end to Mobile Court as well as demobilize his men from all state roads across the state.
“It is important to note that if this ultimatum is not complied with to the later, we will have no option than to mobilize the people to disrupt your activities in civil resistance. We implore you to limit your operations within Trunk ‘A’ roads and administer community service as punishment to road traffic offenders and not fines as is the case since you are not a revenue generating agency.
“We expect your unaccustomed compliance or risk civil action from Civil Society Organizations, Taxi Union, National Union of Road Workers, all road users and the general masses this at the aspiration of ultimatum” .
A disturbed taxi driver, Peter Asuquo said, “this action is a good one because these people and even touts have disturbed us so much. This yellow fever people plus police their work is to control free flow of traffic or suspected stolen car but everyday you will see them hiding in Atu by Goldie, Target, Eyo Etta streets and and others busy harassing motorists for particulars or you pay January or February (N1,000 or N2,000) or more as bribe” .
In an interview, the Head of VIO in the state, Mr. Paul Bepeh said, “my men operate everyday and they do not operate in unfriendly hours and on extortion of motorists. I am not aware but what I am aware is that they are always on routine work of inspecting vehicles to ensure they are in order and so that we have less road crash because our road worthy vehicles, driver’s and others are prone to accident. All the same if any group has any complaints against our operations should come to the office for us to iron it out”.
“All our officers are well trained and if you find anyone extorting or demanding money get his name tag and number and report to me and such officer will be disciplined. Already two of our officers who were caught doing that have been dismissed. I have a reputation and that must be maintained to ensure sanity in the system”
The Public Relations Officer of FRSC, Mr. Ikpi Esuku, said he had not received the document. He however promised to respond accordingly as soon as he receives the petition.