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Commercial bus owners in Nigeria ask the government to check spate of armed robbery

(Sun) – The umbrella body of long distance bus owners and operators in Nigeria, Association of Luxury Bus Owners (ALBON) has implored the Federal Government to deploy measures that will stem the rising cases of armed robbery on various highways.

The association, while reacting to the killing of the driver of a Jos-bound luxury bus by robbers on Saturday at a checkpoint along Ugbokolo Road in Benue State, said many of its drivers, conductors, and passengers have similarly lost their lives in recent weeks.

Decrying the frequent loss of lives and valuables lately to armed attacks, ALBON President, Dan Okemuo, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate a 24-hour surveillance on the highways to make mass transportation safer and more secure for both operators and the travelling public.

“These attacks occur in 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 (Saturday),” Okemuo lamented in a statement, disclosing that last weekend’s incident 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-witness 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 played out (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. 

Although robbers attack luxury buses on all the busy inter-state routes across the country, the association observed that “the most notorious roads” in recent times include 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-Obollo-9th Mile road, especially 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.”

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