Students block Enugu-Onitsha expressway over alleged extortion, intimidation
Students under the auspices of the Joint Campus Committee (JCC), yesterday shut down the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway in Awka, the Anambra State capital.
They were protesting against alleged extortion and intimidation by officials and agents of the state government.
The students, numbering over 500 carried placards and chanted solidarity songs as they requested that Governor Willie Obiano should address them before they leave the Aroma junction where they had converged for the protest.
They carried placards with inscription such as, “Voice of students must be heard,” “Students say no to intimidation,” “Uju Akudo must go,” and “Commissioner for Transport encouraging touts,” among others.
Chairman of JCC in Anambra, Betty Okoye, said the students could no longer bear the situation where agents who claim to be working for government inflicted hardship on them.
Okoye said the agents of government allegedly frustrated the bus station designated for students’ shuttle park in Onitsha, and were forced to pay high fares to and from campuses.
Specifically, students of the Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe paid between N50 and N70 at the designated park but now pay between N150 and N200 in the agents’ parks.
“It is painful that the only thing we are supposed to enjoy from government is being denied us by its agents in the transport ministry. They have prevented us from using the park that we created to enhance our security and make the fares cheaper but they now force us to pay higher fares,” he said.
He called on Obiano to stop illegal agents from conniving with government officials to cause hardship for the students.
Another student, Mike Okolo, lamented that students were suffering as they spend much money on transport and urged the state government to help their situation.
However, a team of Police led by Anthony Akpeyi, DPO of B-Division, Awka mobilised his men to the scene but were unable to disperse the students who sat on the highway.
A re-enforcement team led by Superintendent Willie Odumu, who was deployed from the headquarters, addressed the students, reminding them that they had the right to peaceful protest but should not disrupt public peace in the process.
While pleading with the protesters to leave the highway for road-users, he assured them that they their misgivings would be addressed in no distant time.