The Campaign for Democracy (CD) in South East and Human Rights, Liberty Access and Peace Defenders’ Foundation (HURIDE) has called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State to as a matter of urgency disband the Anambra State Road Transport Management Agency (ATMA) and Ocha brigade.
The group said the State road management agency is doing nothing to manage roads in the State, rather than the leadership and operatives of the agency were busy extorting motorists to enrich themselves.
Speaking to reporters, the chairman of CD in the South East and Executive director of HURIDE, Dede Uzor A Uzor alleged that ATMA operatives target car owners from who they know they would collect huge sums of money, instead of commercial bus drivers who actually cause obstruction and park indiscriminately on the major roads and streets within the metropolis.
He said they extort money ranging from N20,000 to N100,000 from their victims, lamenting that the attitude of the personnel of ATMA was the reason many people don’t come to Onitsha with their vehicles because of fear of molestation and extortion.
“Another deadly group is the Ocha Brigade which has abandoned its statutory responsibility of decongesting traffic and embarked on revenue generation, both the ATMA and OCHA Brigade needs to be disbanded or sent to refresher training.
“Most traders residing in Asaba, Delta State don’t drive their vehicles to Onitsha again because of the unwholesome activities of ATMA personnel, rather they park them around “God is Good Motors” and cross over to Onitsha with Keke or commercial buses.
“At Onitsha Bridge, these ATMA boys preoccupy themselves with infringing private cars who drive on the double lane but turned blind eyes to commercial vehicles because private cars pay them handsomely.
“The ATMA personnel and the CSOs also target private cars which carry numbers outside Anambra State numbers and South-East because they blackmail, intimidate and extort good money from them.
“They suppose to manage traffic but they are not doing that. They are just harassing motorists, extorting money from them and giving the State a bad name especially the under the bridge,” Uzor added.
The rights groups called for a new management for the agency which will flush out all the “hoodlums and undesirable elements” who constitute the agency now.
“The Governor should also sack the Managing Director of ATMA, Mr Emeka Okonkwo, alias Konti, his management team and other personnel like Mr Nnamdi Emmanuel Aghadinaulo aka Ochudo and Mr Henry Ugochukwu Ezeji aka Dangerous Akwansa and others who are notorious for the callous way they deal with motorists and solely working for one KONJI who is based in Awka, Anambra and they release the one-way traffic ban under the bridge since Niger bridge has been open and traffic relaxed.
“Their criminal activities have risen to apogee. They make more than N500,000 per day in Onitsha and N6m in a month but the money does not go into Government cover. It goes to their private pockets. Only a paltry sum goes to the coffers of the State Government.
“Sometimes, these people would deceive a motorist and ask him to follow a particular way or park somewhere, only to turn around and bounce and unleash terror on him and extort huge money from the person.
“Before you know it, they have jumped into your car, some of them even steal your phones and cash in the process. Such an illegal outfit should not be allowed to thrive in Anambra State at this age we have a Professor as a Governor.
“Their Chief Executive Mr Konji’s line is unreachable and lacks human relations. It is unacceptable. He and his boys should be arrested and be made to account for the money they had extorted from people.
“We call on the governor to disband ATMA and train a new set of people within 7 days of this statement, failure to adhere to our advice shall attract a massive protest to seek home our request,” Dede Uzor advised.