Rights group accuses Obiano of introducing roadside extortion, Poor performance

Governor Willie Obiano

A frontline human rights watchdog, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety), has accused the Anambra state government, led by Chief Willie Obiano, of sluggishness in its approach to leadership and poor performance in infrastructural development and security of lives.

Governor Willie Obiano
Governor Willie Obiano

The rights group, in a statement jointly issued through its board chairman, Barrister Emeka Umeagbalasi, head of democracy and good governance, Chinwe Umeche, and head of publicity, Chidinma Evangaline Udegbunam, claimed that the Obiano administration, in the last five years, had failed to address insecurity challenges and deplorable state of roads in the state.

But the state government reacted swiftly to the claims, dismissing the report as spurious and from agents of political detractors working to tarnish the image of Governor Obiano.

The chief press secretary to Anambra state governor, Mr. James Eze, who dismissed the claims, said that the state government, through the Anambra State Road Maintenance Agency, had fixed almost all the roads in the state and, as well, launched operation puff adder, a security network that had been successful in apprehending criminals in the state.

Intersociety also accused the Anambra state government of introducing roadside touting and extortion, undue interference in the leadership of markets, in the state as well as indiscriminate imposition of caretaker committees in markets, thereby bringing governance to its lowest ebb.

“Gov William M. Obiano of Anambra State of Nigeria has been reminded that, over five years out of his constitutionally allowed maximum term of eight years have gone and only two duty-years were left for him to find his name in the state’s hall of fame or join the like of Mbadinuju as failed ex-governor of Anambra state.

“Public governance is at lowest ebb under Obiano. Our reminder to Governor Obiano of time running, following the continuous ‘kingly governance’ style of leadership in the state and falling apart or into pieces of articles of public governance (sic). The Obiano administration also seems to be beating about the bush and focusing on governance irrelevancies in matters of public governance in the state.

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“Reports obtained concerning the state of governance in the state from our recently commissioned field trips across the state are nothing to write home about. The field trips cut across core issues of governance, including crooked and violent methods of government and non-state actor revenue collection, roadside touting, militancy and extortion.

“Others include police, military (navy and army) and paramilitary (FRSC) roadblock extortions; deplorable state of the state roads, poor waste disposal and management; gutter and drainage blockages, government’s undue interference in state markets’ leaderships including indiscriminate imposition of caretaker committees in markets and LGAs etc.” it stated

The group also claimed that state controlled intercity roads are in deplorable state excerpt few roads in Onitsha North and South like the Umuasale Street, Mbonu Ojike Street, Obosi Street, Bishop Shanahan Street, Mbakwu Street, Shebba Street, Palmer Street and Sir Louis Mbanefo Street (Orange Market in Woliwo Layout) that were all asphalted by the member representing the Onitsha South/North Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Hon Lynda Ikpeazu.

“Other than the eight streets mentioned above, many others mostly located in Onitsha South and Odoakpu are a no-go area (sic) or death trap; likewise those in Awada, Owerre-Aja, Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi, Ugwuagba, Okpoko, Nkutaku, Iyiowa Layout, Odo-Rubber, Oba, Nnewi, Ihiala, Nsugbe, Nkwelle, Ekwulobia, etc.

“The Obodo-Ukwu and Ede Roads in Okpoko (Ogbaru) and Mgbemene Street and Nwaziki Avenue in Awada are also a death trap; likewise, the Ezeiweka Road and Oraifite Street in Awada which are at the point of collapse with blocked drainages.

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“At Onitsha South LGA, the Bida Road, Amobi Street, Ochanja by Zik’s Avenue, Creek Road, Niger Street and Port Harcourt Road are the worst hit, while most of the street roads around Odoakpu and Woliwo Layout as well as their likes in Nnewi have become acutely impassable.

“Also, many of the state Trunk B or inter LGA roads have failed or become inaccessible. In Mgbakwu, the ongoing work on the Isuanocha-Mgbakwu Road is not only at snail pace but, also, its quality is questionable or nothing to write home about. In the same vein, many communities in Awka North LGA, near the State Capital City, are passing through teething hardship owing to inaccessibility of their road network.

“The affected Communities include Ebenebe, Ugbenu, Urum, Oba-Ofe-Mmili and Amanuke. Roads leading to those communities are a (sic) death trap. These are just to mention but a few.”

Intersociety also raised alarm on the increasing wave of crimes in Onitsha axis of Anambra state and its environs, blaming it on the government revenue agents and their cronies. “The crime rate in the state, particularly crimes against persons and properties (i.e. house breaking, burglary, armed robbery, larceny, snatching, carjacking, etc) has skyrocketed.

“Government of the day, including its criminally minded appointees, have also made the state very difficult for those engaging in trade and commerce, with touts and different types of criminal gangs recruited by the state government, its criminally minded political appointees, the state ruling party-produced lawmakers as well as government appointed LGA Caretaker Chairmen; running riot on innocent and defenseless traders and other road users. These are done with reckless abandon, using roadside, street side and market/motor park touting and violent extortions.

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“At major and service lanes of the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Upper Iweka and Niger Bridgehead axis, those criminal touts are routinely spotted armed with dangerous weapons and operating unchecked. Their criminal methods include the use of “2by2” planks to smash the side mirrors of long lorries, including trailers and 911 Lorries loaded with goods; going out or coming into the state or any part thereof.

“Among the group criminal gangs are militant taskforces drawn from the State Government’s “Road Decongestion”, “Trade & Commerce”, “Transport”, “Environmental Protection Agency” and others collecting sundry criminal tolls.

“These are in addition to unchecked gross misconducts of the personnel of the Nigerian Navy stationed at Uga Junction who go about with reckless abandon engaging in sundry extortions using recruited criminal civilians; likewise the personnel of the Nigeria Police Force stationed at every strategic nook and cranny of the State particularly Onitsha, Nnewi and their environs, robbing road users from left, right and center” it said.

Speaking further in the telephone interview, Eze described Intersociety as a political platform being used by a former governor to destablise and incite people of the state against the governor.

According to him, “Inter society is not a credible organization. They are not credible and not a serious human rights group. They are a discredited group of people who are sponsored by the former governor of Anambra state to carry out mischief and use their media power to terrorise the incumbent governor.