Following the recent ban on commercial motorcycles in Ukum and Katsina-Ala Local Government Areas of Benue State, North Central Nigeria as part of measures to address insecurity challenges, soldiers deployed to the area have allegedly set seven motorcycles ablaze.
Their action is already generating public outcry as well as brewing tension in the area.
HumAngle gathered from residents in the area that armed soldiers stormed Kyado community and mounted a roadblock at Abako junction after which some of them moved to the yam market where they arrested over 37 riders with their motorcycles.
An eye witness who would not want his name to be mentioned for safety reasons told HumAngle that the soldiers set seven of the motorcycles on fire while the remaining 30 were moved to an unknown destination. He said the brand of the burnt motorcycles was ‘Super Cubes’.
Moses Tsenghzuul, an indigen of the area lamented that the soldiers have overstepped their boundaries with that action.
Tsenghzuul argued that a motorcycle rider should be prosecuted and not the motorbike.
He said setting the motorbike on fire is uncalled for, noting that the majority of the people in the area use the motorbike as a means of transport to their farms.
Another resident of the area, Terngu Apaa said there ‘was no sense in what the soldiers have done.’ He called on the Benue State Government to reconsider the ban stressing that it has plunged the residents into an untold hardship as many of them have resorted to trekking long distances with their goods.
While appealing to the State Government to come to their aid, two of the motorcycle riders whose motorcycles were destroyed, Atergan Iorvaa, and Terzungwe Adula claimed ignorance of the ban and stressed that motorcycles were their only sources of livelihood.
When contacted, Kundushima Iorzungwe and Achineku Ijirbo, the chairmen, Benue Motorcycle Association (BEMOA) for Katsina-Ala, and that of Ukum, lamented the effect of the ban, pointing out that many of their members took loans from different local thrifts to buy the motorcycles while others collected the motorcycles on hire purchase making it difficult for them to repay their loans.
They further stated that the association was not properly informed of the ban arguing that there was no provision of alternative means of transportation before effecting the state executive council directive on the ban of motorcycles in the area.
Reacting to the development, Steve Ayua, the chairman of Ukum Local Government Area, described the decision of the State Government as a tough one considering the plights of residents but however noted that the present suffering was capable of bringing positive results.
Ayua said the Local Government Council was reviewing the situation with a view to making a presentation to the State Government while security personnel have been detailed to deal with all defaulters.
Meanwhile, Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State says the State Security Council will meet next week to review the security situation in Katsina-Ala and Ukum local Governments following the ban on motorcycles in the areas.
Ortom in a statement by Terver Akase, his Chief Press Secretary said his attention has been drawn to reports of the destruction of impounded motorcycles in Ukum and Katsina-Ala and gave the assurance that the Security Council would review the ongoing operation in the affected areas.
The Benue State Security Council had on December 29, 2020, banned the use of motorbikes and all illegal revenue collection points in Katsina-Ala and Ukum Local Government Areas of the state.
The decision came as a result of the growing security concerns in Katsina-Ala and other Sankara axis of the state where unidentified gunmen on motorbikes believed to be late Gana’s boys have recently unleashed mayhem on communities, killing at least three police officers in a raid targeting the residence of Alfred Atera, the Chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government.
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