Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
Over 200 Keke NAPEP operators in Abakaliki on Tuesday embarked on a peaceful protest in front of Ebonyi State Government House Gate, blocking the road for hours that led to heavy gridlock over alleged levy of N3,400 by the state Ministry of Works..
The protesters were aggrieved over taxation and the poor leadership of the union which had led to the factionalisation of the union, chanting â€œno more union, no more union.â€
The protesters complained that because of the leadership crisis, they were subjected to excessive levies and victimisation by the agents and taskforce members, working for the Ministry of Works.
However, a team of policemen from the commandâ€™s headquarters was immediately deployed to government house to ensure that the protesters did not cause mayhem and breach of public peace.
The development also forced Keke NAPEP operators who are not among the protesters to discharge their passengers abruptly on getting to the government house which culminated to the blockage of road for hours.
One of the protesters alleged that some group of taskforce members loyal to one of the factions has been extorting monies from the operators on daily basis, a development which has brought hardship to the operators in the state.
The source alleged some criminals also disguised themselves as taskforce members to impound their Keke only to steal it and run away to unknown places.
He noted that the protest was principally motivated because of the new levy of about N3,400 perpetrated by a faction against the union.
Addressing the protesters, the Senior Special Adviser, to the governor on Internal Security, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, noted that government had already waded into the leadership crisis, assuring them that it would expedient actions to settle the matter which is already before a court in the state.
Ugbala said there has been leadership crisis in the union in the last one year adding that government had to dissolve the two factions to allow peace reign within the union.
On the alleged imposition of some unapproved levies on them, Ugbala stated that the state government also investigation the allegation and come out with its resolution and best suitable way to ensure peace in th state.
The protesters after they had been addressed by the SSA proceeded to the Ministry of Works and blocked the entrance thereby disrupting official work at the ministry.
On sighting the protesters, security men at the gate of the ministry immediately locked the gate to avoid invasion and destruction of property of the ministry.