Extortion: Anambra tipper drivers protest alleged N200,000 levy

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Tipper drivers in Anambra have expressed dismay over the alleged forceful collection of N200,000 from each driver by officials of the Anambra State Road Traffic Management Agency (ARTMA).

The Chairman of the association, Mr Ebuka Unekwe, made the allegation during a press briefing in Onitsha, on Thursday.

Unekwe alleged that ARTMA officials extorted its members of money ranging from N200,000 and above under the guise of traffic control.

He lamented that tipper drivers were being extorted in the state on a daily basis, noting that the roads from where they loaded sand were dilapidated and impassable.

The chairman complained that due to the unmotorable condition of the roads, vehicles always fall and often create problems for the drivers.

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He noted that tipper drivers now resorted to plying Niger Street, through Port Harcourt Road down to Upper Iweka all in Onitsha.

According to Unekwe, when we drive to Upper Iweka to connect the flyovers, ARTMA officials and some security agents would suddenly jump into our tippers.

“They do this every night and they compelled us to move into their park where they forcefully collect N200,000 from us on the condition that it was Gov. Charles Soludo they were working for.

“The ARTMA officials do not accept cash transfers but they insist that they must be given physical cash before any tipper in their net would be released.

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“They are being led by one Akachukwu, an indigene of Ebonyi State, allegedly employed by the ARTMA Managing Director to act as their commander and ensure that the N200,000 were extorted from the tipper drivers and remitted to him privately.

“So far, between Tuesday and Wednesday alone, ARTMA officials have forcefully extorted N200,000 each from eight tipper drivers in the area.

“So this morning, some of us who loaded at Asaba and plied the road have been forcefully made to pay N200,000 to ARTMA,” he said.

He said as a result of the continuous extortion, the tipper drivers have concluded to stage a peaceful protest to draw the attention of the state governor towards their plight.

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“We are set to block the Onitsha axis of the federal highway in the state to draw government attention,” the chairman said.

However, when contacted on the telephone, the Managing Director, ARTMA, Mr Emeka Konti, denied the allegations, adding that he did not send any of his officials to collect the sum of N200,000 from tipper drivers.

“That is totally false. No official was asked to collect N200,000 from tipper drivers.

“We only asked the tipper drivers to stop plying one way at night hence they started the propaganda,” he said.

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