By Bennett Oghifo
The Association of Luxury Bus Owners (ALBON), has appealed to the Federal Government to immediately contain the rising cases of armed robbery on various highways.
The association, which was reacting to the killing of the driver of a Jos-bound luxury bus by robbers, at a checkpoint along Ugbokolo road in Benue State, recently, said many of its drivers, conductors and passengers had been murdered in similar circumstances in the past few weeks.
ALBON President, Sir Dan Okemuo, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate 24-hour surveillance on the highways in order to make mass transportation safer and more secure for both operators and the travelling public.
“These attacks occur at different areas of the country and have increased in both intensity and viciousness, resulting in the death of many of our innocent drivers, bus conductors and passengers. The latest was this morning (last Saturday),” stating that last weekend’s involved a member’s bus on its way to Jos from Aba.
The late victim, Nonso Nweze, was driving the luxury bus belonging to a transport firm, Chi-Boy Express, from Aba to Jos, when he encountered the robbery gang at Ugbokolo.
An eye-witnessed disclosed that the incident happened at a checkpoint usually manned by policemen, recounting that angry motorists barricaded both sides of the highway for hours until a top state government official intervened to restore the flow of traffic.
A similar incident, he said happened, from early morning till about noon two months ago, at Okada on the Ore-Benin road, following the killing of a luxury bus driver during a robbery operation.
According to the association, robbers attack luxury buses on all the busy inter-state routes, across the country, but that “the most notorious roads” in recent times were: Lagos-Ore-Benin expressway, especially the area covering Ofosu, Okada Town and Benin by-pass; Okene-Lokoja; and Jos-Akwanga-Lafia Makurdi, especially at Kadoroko.
Also identified as the area where the highway robbers target inter-city mass transit vehicles is the Makurdi-Alaide-Oturukpo-
“Between the months of July and August, 2017 alone, we have lost at least three of our drivers and a bus conductor on the Ore-Benin Road and at the Ugbokolo on Makurdi-Alaide-Oturkpo-Obollo-
“We are aware of the security challenges facing our dear country and the efforts the Federal Government and the Nigeria Police are making to curtail the menace. But, it does appear that the more efforts the Police make, the more audacious and daring these criminal elements become,” they lamented.
The association specifically called on government to set up a special anti-crime squad to maintain a 24-surveillance and patrol on these notorious robbery black spots on the identified highways.
Okemuo said, “Government should also investigate why these cases of armed attacks on our buses and passengers have continued without ceasing, every day and every night on these routes, especially at Ofusu/Okada Town on Ore-Benin road and at Lafia, Kadoroko and Ugbokolo, despite the fact that the Edo, Nasarawa and Benue state commands of the Police are aware of their continued re-occurrence.”