Allegations unfounded -Military
A group of soldiers at Marabba under Mokwa Local Government Area in Niger State have been extorting and brutalising commercial drivers plying Mokwa- Jebba road on daily basis, investigations have revealed.
It was gathered by our reporter who plied the road two times in four days, that this set of soldiers usually operates between 7pm and 6am daily, extorting money from motorists plying the highway.
Moh’d Sheshi, branch chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) Mokwa LGA, told our correspondent that aside from bad roads and other countless transport issues they face on daily basis, extortion by soldiers was also a disservice.
“The most painful part of the story is that those soldiers are there only to extort money from our drivers.”
Sheshi added that the union had reported to the Mokwa Police Command, but that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) only assured the drivers of liaising with the Army commander in the town about their mode of operation along the roads in Mokwa.
Some commercial drivers, in separate interviews, also revealed that the soldiers in question collect not less than N100 from each driver who uses the road.
Meanwhile, the NURTW boss also recounted series of brutal events as a result of drivers refusing to offer the bribe.
“There was a time when a soldier hit one of the drivers to some extent that the driver sustained an injury and was rushed to the hospital.
“But they were forced to pay his medical fees because of what they usually collect from drivers; till this moment of speaking, I still have their contacts with me.
“They often make their operations between nightfall and early in the morning. They know that it is illegal that is what makes them be there at that time,” he recounted.
Ndagi Janatu, one of the victims, said the soldiers once demanded N50, and he replied them that nothing was available for now.
“One of them asked me to open the car’s booth and I did as instructed by them. I offloaded all luggage in the car.
“The owners of the luggage were called as they began to ransacked the whole luggage but nothing was found.
“As we continued, one of the soldiers requested my car key and I replied angrily no. Before a blink of an eye, I was hit in the head.”
Another commercial driver,Abubakar Ahmed Mokwa, said their threat is becoming unbearable. Soldiers are deployed to protect people but here is a different case.
“They don’t even care to check luggage or passengers but only on by the roadside for themselves.”
He further explained that they once injured a driver who was going to Kpaki village”all because of N100″.
The anger in us became so high that only our chairman was able to pacify us, he said of the incident.
In a quaking tone, he further revealed that the soldiers “extort according to the size of your vehicle.”
One of the military personnel who did not give his name, said their purpose of staying on the roadside was not to extort commercial drivers.
“I won’t say or tell that the fact is inaccurate but it will be taken care of by me,” he said.
He added that nobody had ever brought such complaints to the military authorities.
“At a checkpoint, a soldier was hit by one driver and he ran away. Only God knows what he hides in the car.
“We are all here not to extort commercial drivers; when people are laying allegations you should know that it is a lie,” the military officer said.
Army spokesman, Brigadier General
Onyema Nwachukwu, when contacted denied the activities, but said there were codes and conducts guiding military operations.
When contacted for the second time, he said, “I have called the Commander in Ilorin and he assured that the soldiers would be