- Category: SPECIAL REPORTS
- Thursday, 23 August 2012
- By Emeka Umeagbalasi
"Sadly Your Excellency, “ASTA” has grossly and dangerously deviated from these noble intentions. Apart from seemingly becoming a lucrative unconventional revenue source for its supervising commissioners including commissioner for special duties, in charge of ASTA, who has severally taken ownership of its gross misconducts by way of “interventions” and “defenses”"
Mr. Peter Gregory Obi, Governor of Anambra State of Nigeria
1. Mr. Oseloka Obaze, Secretary to the Government of Anambra State
2. Mr. Vincent Ezenwajiaku, Commissioner for Special Duties
3. Mr. Robert Okonkwo, Commissioner for Commerce
4. Dr. Collins Chike Ohamobi, Commissioner for Transport
5. Mrs. Victoria Obinwa, Special Adviser to the Governor on IGR
6. Mr. Nwanne Ejikeme, Chairman, Anambra State Joint Revenue Board
Anambra State Traffic Control Agency (ASTA) Office At Onitsha Bridgehead As A Den Of Felonious Culprits- Namely: Armed Robbers, Abductors, Thieves, Fake Revenue Collectors, Touts, Assault Offenders And Murderous Thugs: A Call For Its Proscription Or Codification Of Its Activities
Above subject matter refers.
(Onitsha Nigeria, 23rd August 2012)-Recall Your Excellency that “ASTA” was created through Your Excellency’s proclamation about four years ago to enforce traffic regulations on Anambra urban roads including busy Trunk A, B, and C roads. By Your Excellency’s proclamation, the Agency is supposed to ensure free flow of traffic in major and semi-major cities of Onitsha, Ogbaru, Awada, Nkpor, Obosi, Ogidi, Oba, Awka, Ekwulobia/Oko/Umunze, Ihiala, Nnewi, etc. It is also supposed to caution and apprehend those causing obstructions on the roads and remove or impound obstruction objects including wrongly parked and moving vehicular, with defaulters made to pay prescribed receipted fees or transferred to the prosecutorial authorities for prosecution on charges of statutory traffic offenses. The idea behind the creation of “ASTA” by Your Excellency is to complement the duties of relevant traffic control agencies including Federal Road Safety Corps and the Nigerian Road Traffic Control Agency of the Nigeria Police Force.
Sadly Your Excellency, “ASTA” has grossly and dangerously deviated from these noble intentions. Apart from seemingly becoming a lucrative unconventional revenue source for its supervising commissioners including commissioner for special duties, in charge of ASTA, who has severally taken ownership of its gross misconducts by way of “interventions” and “defenses”, the Agency has also become unconventional revenue collection agency for all kinds of revenue merchants in the State and beyond. Such revenue items include “Drivers & Conductors Badge Clearance Receipt of N10,000 2012 “( issued by the State Commissioner for Special Duties), “Anambra State Motorcycle Riders’ Permit” (issued by the Commissioner above named), “Community/Infrastructural Development Oil Land Permit” of Oshimili South LGA, Delta State, “Oshimili South LGA Operational Permit 2012”, “Asaba International Airport Route Clearance Certificate/Permit 2012” of Delta State, “Niger Delta Youth Empowerment, Development & Airport Route Clearance Certificate/Permit 2012” of Delta State, “Vehicle Outdoor Radio & TV MOAVAG Clearance Scratch Card 2012”.
Others are: “Agricultural Resources Development 2012 for Production & Environmental Protection” of Oshimili South LGA of Delta State, “ Delta State of Nigeria 2012 Sea Port of Oshimili South LGA” of Delta State, Oshimili South LGA Power & Energy Sticker 2012” of Delta State, “ Oshimili South LGA M.O.T 2012” of Delta State, “Oshimili South LGA GATE-WAY Permit 2012” of Delta State, “Oshimili South LGA Oil & Gas Sticker 2012” of Delta State, “Oshimili South LGA Haulage, Loading & Off Loading Permit 2012” of Delta State, “Flight Haulage Service Agency of (N5,000.00)”, “Oshimili South LGA F.O.T. Sticker 2012” of Delta State, “Mobile Radio & Television National Coverage Permit 2012”, “Mobile Outdoor Advert National Coverage 2012”, “Unified Hackney Carriage Permit National Coverage 2012”, “Mobile Outdoor Environmental Sanitation National Coverage 2012”, “Loading & Offloading Vehicle Clearance National Coverage 2012” and “Sewage & Refuse Disposal National Coverage Year 2012 Vehicle Clearance”, all issued by MOAVAG. There is also “Consolidated Sanitation Bucket 2012” issued by the Anambra State Commissioner for Transport as well as other sundry extortionist activities carried out with impunity by the ASTA operatives, especially between Onitsha Niger Bridgehead and Nkpor New Motor Spare Parts Market axis.
A Star Victim’s Account:
On 1st August 2012, Chief Peter Onyenelisi with mobile phone number 08033309301 was ambushed at the Onitsha end of the Niger Bridgehead by a group of ASTA operatives who dressed tattered. They forced him to park on the middle of the road and swooped on him in a murderous manner. Chief Onyenelisi, a Kaduna-based Igbo Union leader and businessman, was forced out of his private car- a Gulf Wagon with registration number BT 600 GWA. He and his car were ferried to the ASTA office under the Niger Bridgehead. At the point of entering the Agency’s office gate, a group of ruffians clutching sticks of Indian hemp descended on him and beat him to the point of terrified submission. They abducted him to a hidden corner of the office and dispossessed him of all his personal effects including the sum of N15, 000.00. They tore his shirt and pockets to ensure that no dime is left and accused him of not having “emblems” for his private vehicle.
As if that was not enough, Chief Peter Onyenelisi was threatened with instant death unless he calls somebody to come to his rescue with extra sum of N20,000. Chief Onyenelisi, left with no choice, called one of his sisters residing in Onitsha, who brought N20, 000, which they collected without any valid receipts. They pushed them out of their premises amidst mass beating. The shocking aspect of it was that when Chief Peter Onyenelisi threatened that he will inform his Igbo brothers and sisters residing in Kaduna to stop coming home with their private vehicles, his captors boldly informed him that “Peter Obi sends us and asks us to do what we are doing”.
At the end, they robbed him of a total of N35,000, beat him murderously, assaulted and threatened him with summary death and threw inside his car the State Commissioner for Transport’s bucket containing sundry revenue stickers, permits and badges listed above, totaling 27 in number. Chief Peter Onyenelisi further reported to Intersociety that the ASTA premises under the Niger Bridgehead is a den of Indian hemp smokers and menacingly looking young men and women numbering over hundred who are capable of engaging in any felonious activities. According to him, at the point of his ambush and abduction, his attackers were five, but during his murderous beatings inside the Agency’s premises, he was surrounded and surrendered by about 30 of them including those who dressed in ASTA uniform.
The case of Chief Peter Onyenelisi is one out of many that happen on daily basis. Our further findings show that average of 10 citizens, mostly private vehicle owners, commercial and company’s vehicles’ drivers fall victim on daily basis by losing between N15,000 and N100,000 each, depending on the vehicle type, financial strength and proportion of illegal force applied. Most of the victims are non-State residents. Apart from Onitsha Niger Bridgehead and Uga Junction axis, another very dangerous area where such illegalities take place is Onitsha Upper Iweka, especially Lagos Park and Aba Park axis. The most shocking aspect of it all is that 16 out of the 27 revenue papers under investigation came from Delta State, mostly from Oshimili South LGA of the State. In other words, revenues meant to be collected in Delta State, are new collected in Onitsha, Anambra State with all kinds of crude method and force. In the case of Anambra State, Your Excellency, it is observed that every ministry and parastatal has become a revenue collection body, yet at the month end, little or nothing is returned to the government coffers, suggesting that such revenues end up in the private pockets of some of the Commissioners, SAs and their unconventional revenue contractors or agents.
While Your Excellency deserves commendation for taking a bold step in cleaning up the filthy entrance into Onitsha, it will be counter-productive to maintain a den of armed robbers, abductors, snatchers, murderous thugs and touts, thieves and violent fake and authentic revenue collectors at the prime entrance into Onitsha including Onitsha Upper Iweka. It is also territorially abominable to allow another State’s IGR (internally generated revenues) to be collected in Anambra State. For a traffic control agency to turn itself into a broad-day murderous squad is a big minus to Your Excellency’s revered local, national and international reputation.
We call on Your Excellency to draw the attention of the Delta State Governor to the serious issue so raised with a view to putting an immediate end to it and sanctioning those involved. Your Excellency should also order, as a matter of uttermost immediacy, a full scale investigation into sundry revenue papers under discussion so as to ascertain their origin, authenticity or otherwise. Your Excellency should seal off the ASTA office under the Niger Bridgehead because there is no difference between the kidnappers’ dens sealed off in the State by Your Excellency and the premises under reference. The ASTA Agency in the State should be scrapped or thoroughly reorganized, which would include codification through a State of Assembly enactment, of its activities. A database should be created for the Agency and its activities with its members subjected to forensic identification. If collection of fines must be part of its sanction code, then it should be modeled after that of the Federal Road Safety Corps.
Further, all the Commissioners and SAs through which this letter is addressed to Your Excellency other than the SSG, should be thoroughly questioned to ascertain their remote or immediate links or otherwise to the gross misconducts complained off with a view to disciplining them if culpable. The present proliferated IGR regime maintained by the affected ministries, departments and parastatals in the State should be suspended and reorganized. The unconventional and murderous methods of collecting any form of government revenues either by State or LGA and their crude modes of sanction should be banned and custody-apprehension, prescribed/receipted fines and court sanction introduced Statewide. It is also our call that the sum of N35, 000.00 should be refunded by Your Excellency’s express order to the star victim under reference, Chief Peter Onyenelisi, who can be reached via 08033309301. The picture of his said private car and photocopies of revenue papers dumped inside his car are hereby attached for Your Excellency’s perusal. For effective control of Okada and Keke riders in the State as well as enhancement of the IGR, we urge Your Excellency to study and follow Lagos State methods.
Henceforth Sir, smoking of Indian hemp should be prohibited in all the State Government establishments, especially the Anambra State Traffic Control Agency (ASTA). The issuance of “Anambra State Motorcycle Riders Permit and collection of its sundry levies by the Commissioner for Special Duties should be suspended until proper modalities are worked out. It is very unfortunate Sir that the exercise, originally designed to ensure proper identification of all motorcycles and tricycles in the State, has been turned into unconventional revenue drives and extortion. The identification exercise has been abandoned for unconventional revenue drives including extortion with little or nothing going into the State Government coffers, except private pockets.
Your Excellency’s Commissioners and SAs should also be purged of armchair mentality. A situation where Your Excellency tours round the State more than most of Your Excellency’s Commissioners and SAs makes mockery of them and puts them at a far distance from the residents of the State, and this defeats the idea of peopling governance. The gross criminal activities under reference thrive because the Commissioners and SAs responsible for their constant checks have become “commissioners and SAs by telephone and office chair”.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Nigeria
Chairman, Board of Trustees
+234(0) 8033601078, +234(0) 8180103912
Comrade Justus Ijeoma
Head, Publicity Desk
1. Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command
2. Director of State Security Services, Anambra State Directorate
3. The Onitsha Area Commander, NPF, Onitsha
4. The Governor of Delta State, Asaba, Delta State