On Wednesday, keke operators in Anambra State demonstrated at the Unizik junction in Awka about the alleged murders, kidnappings, and harassment of their members.
During a cult confrontation at the Unizik crossroads on Tuesday, three of their members were slain and one was allegedly taken.
The demonstrators, who held placards with varied inscriptions, claimed that the actions were carried out by government-sponsored suspected cultists.
Mr Osita Obi, the Coordinator of the Awka North and South Keke Drives Welfare Forum, told journalists in Awka that security operatives were aware of the assailants but were unable to apprehend them due to the large returns the organization remits to them.
He said that the daily fees they paid were excessive and a financial strain on them.
He said, “A lot of our members have been killed. We don’t want it again. The Keke drivers are tired of leadership imposition and want to be allowed to operate independently.
“Many of us cannot afford to leave in good houses, send our children to good schools and wear good clothes. This is not because we are not making money but the loopholes are just too many and have to stop. We are remitting too much money to cultists who will maim and kill us if we refused to comply.
“We want to state clearly that if anything should happen to any of these us again, people should hold the government responsible because we expect government to intervene.
“The Keke drivers are willing to pay legitimate government revenues, but obnoxious revenues will no longer be tolerated.”
One of the demonstrators, Emeka Uzoechi, claimed that the failure to hold elections to replace the current leadership is the cause of the union’s crisis.
He said, “I am an HND holder from Kaduna State Polytechnic, Zaria. I ventured into this business so as to be financially independent. We want the state government to compel the leadership to conduct a fresh election so we can assume leadership and be in charge of our affairs. When the election is democratically conducted, those extorting us will be removed from office.”
Dr Emma Akpeh, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transportation, disputed the Keke operators’ assertions that they were forced to pay specific charges.
Mr Ikenga Tochukwu, the Police Public Relations Officer, revealed that a conflict occurred at the Unizik Junction, which culminated in the barbaric killing of two police officers, and that 21 people had been arrested.
said, “There was a cult clash at the Unizik junction on Tuesday where two of our police personnel were brutally murdered.
“As I speak, 21 persons have been arrested and we are profiling them. Some of them have made useful information that will help in our investigation.
“Right now, Awka is peaceful, although I don’t have any information about the protest today. I can tell you that there is a situation on the ground which the police are dealing with.”