Operators of commercial motorcycles popularly known as Keke Napep in Awka, Anambra State have called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo to fish out officers of Special Anti-Touting Squad, SASA, who attacked their members in Awka in December last year.
The body also urged the government to ensure the team foot the hospital bills of brutalized keke drivers.
One of the operators, who was recently discharged from hospital told newsmen that although he was ready to start work again, he could not in view of the revenue debt he was owing while he was in the hospital.
He revealed that he spent close to N70,000 to treat the injuries he sustained on his head, after SASA operators invaded their park at UNIZIK-Junction, Awka and attacked them with matchetes.
He said, “We were at the park when SASA operatives came in a commando style to arrest someone collecting park fee of N200 at a private park at UNIZIK junction.
“All of a sudden, they started destroying Keke windscreen and using matchetes on us and arrested about seven of us.
“Due to the injuries I sustained, I have been hospitalized since then and I was just discharged from the hospital after paying close to N70,000 naira. It was even fellow Keke riders that raised N40,000 for me and I augmented the balance of over N20,000, to be able to pay.
“Now, they are saying I cannot start work because I am owing the government revenue since I was hospitalized.
“I have a wife and children to take care of and it is not as if my condition is stable, but because of responsibilities on me, I have to start work. Yet, they will not allow me.”
Another keke rider, Iwunor John, called on the state government to mandate the SASA operatives to foot the huge hospital bill of the man.
According to him, the invasion of the private park was uncalled for, when the operatives know about a close-by park where touts were extorting operators.
The Coordinator, Anambra Keke Drivers Forum, Comrade Osita Obi, expressed regret that the victim who pays his taxes and levies promptly, could be subjected to such inhumane act by government operatives.
“This young man is a law-abiding citizen, paying his taxes promptly and contributing to the revenue of the state.
“The condition he was after he was brutalized could not allow him to officially inform the State Internal Revenue Service, AIRS, that he was out of work, because he was battling for his life!
“He must not be billed. Instead, the agents that perpetrated this act should be made to apologize to him, as he has not committed any known crime,” he emphasized.
Describing the SASA as a well-thought-out initiative, Obi alleged that the agency is run by touts and therefore cannot fight touting in the state.
He said; “this is an agency of government that is not even backed by law, but because of the sensitivity of the touting challenge as at the time, the governor had to put them together, but look at what they have done.
“It is quite unfortunate that a noble agency like this will be run by touts. Tell me what anti-touting has got to do with destroying keke windscreens and brutalizing operators?
“These people manning the agency are touts and there is no way touts can chase away touts.”
Reacting, SASA Commander, Ebuka Solomon, who insisted that the December operation which he led, was politicized.
“These were the same people who were calling us to come and assist them and when we eventually came, they started fighting us because they had touts collecting monies for them.
“But we want to assure the people that no amount of blackmail can make us renege on this task assigned to us by Governor Chukwuma Soludo, to rid the state of touts.”