A bus driver identified as Salvation Taylor Harry was gruesomely murdered while eight passengers were abducted in an attack on a commercial bus by deadly gunmen along Abonnema – Emohua- Kalabari road of Rivers State on Saturday night.
According to reports, the bus passengers had taken off from Mile One Park in Port Harcourt with the passenger on a trip to Buguma when the gunmen ambushed them.
The Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area, Onengiyeofori George, confirmed the attack on the bus, the killing of the driver, as well as the abduction of the passengers.
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In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr John Paul Braide, on Sunday in Buguma City, the local government Council boss charged the Police to safeguard the Abonnema – Emohua- Kalabari road, the only route to Kalabari land.
Onengiyeofori George, who condemned the kidnapping incident on Saturday night, sympathized with the bereaved family of the driver over their loss.
He also ordered the closure of Buguma motor park after 6pm daily, warning all motorists and drivers alike to desist forthwith from endangering the lives of the people of Asari-Toru local government area by continuing to ply the route after the closure of the park.
He further advised passengers and all residents of Asari-Toru to be conscious of their personal safety by avoiding night traveling until security on the road is improved.
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Motorists alleged that the Policemen manning the few checkpoints on the road were only interested in the money they collect from taxi drivers and illegal refiners of petroleum products.
The Chairmen of Emohua, Akuku-Toru, Asari-Toru and Degema, the four local government linked by the road had many times in the past promised to ensure improved security on the highway.
They made the same promise after soldiers were withdrawn following the killing of some of them in checkpoints by gunmen last year.
But the youths of Kalabari ethnic nationality said the chairmen are not doing enough to curb kidnapping along the Emohua/Kalabari road.
They noted that expressway is the only motorable road leading to the three Kalabari Local Government Areas veering off from Emohua.
Kalabari Clan Chairman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Comrade Edward Asiki-Tams told journalists that the youths of the region are ready to provide lasting security on the road in synergy with the Nigeria security operatives.
“Our challenge is lack of commitment on the part of the Chairmen to provide us with the needed tools and logistics to secure that road.
“If we man that road, no person born of a woman can kidnap, rob or commit crimes on that road.”
The IYC chairman also advised politicians in the affected LGAs to empower the youths so as to bring them out of the creeks.
“No job creation, skill acquisition programmes nor any meaningful engagement for the youths. The youths are hungry and as a result prefer to remain in the creeks.
“Though hunger can not justify crime, but if they get empowerment from the politicians, philanthropistts and business moguls in our area, a lot of them will leave the creeks and that will help to reduce the crime rate,” he said.
While calling on the kidnappers to immediately release their victims unconditionally and forthwith desist from perpetrating such barbaric and criminal act.
He noted that upsurge in kidnapping can also reduce the Kalabari voting strength if it’s not promptly and holistically addressed before 2023.
“This consistent kidnap incident mainly on the Emohua-Kalabari road will cause political fear mongering that will lead to poor participation in the ongoing INEC continuous voters registration exercise which may possibly reduce our voting strength.
“In every responsible clime, security has always been citizens duty, therefore let us give maximum support and cooperation to governments at all level devoid of political colouration, acrimony and ethnocentrism in making our environment a safe heaven, he added.
The Rivers State Police Command through its Spokesperson, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, confirmed the incident.
She assured that the adequate security has been mobilized to the road to forestall future occurrence.