BEVERLY HILLS, September 01, (THEWILL) – The Association of Luxury Bus Owners, ALBON, has called on the Federal Government to urgently contain the rising cases of armed robbery on the nation’s highways, lamenting that many of its drivers, conductors and passengers had been murdered in the past few weeks.
The association, which cried out against the backdrop of the recent killing of the driver of a Jos-bound luxury bus by robbers at a checkpoint along Ugbokolo in Benue State, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate 24-hour surveillance on the highways so as to make mass transportation safer and more secure for both operators and the travelling public.
A statement issued by the ALBON President, Sir Dan Okemuo, read in part, “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”, adding that last weekend’s involved a member’s bus on its way to Jos from Aba.
The deceased named 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. Eye-witness account has it that the incident happened at a checkpoint usually manned by policemen.
A similar incident, Okemuo 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.
The association continued that 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-Oturkpo-Obollo-9thMile road, particularly at Ugbokolo.
“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-9th Mile road. And these attacks have continued unabated resulting in the killing and maiming of our drivers, bus conductors and innocent passengers. Unless the Police high command rises to the challenge, these reckless and relentless attacks would ruin our businesses completely.
“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.
ALBON categorically called on the federal 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.
“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,” Okemuo said.