BY SAM ESIABA
Traffic and indiscipline Management Agency of Abia State (TIMAAS) was set by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to maintain law and order on roads in the State. But the agency through its Deputy General Manager, Aba zone, Mr. Bright Chinedu Ikokwu has turned itself into a lawless organization through indiscriminate confiscation of vehicles and imposition of huge fines ranging from N200, 000 to N300, 000,for trucks and N60,000 to N100,000, for cars. The Abia State Road Traffic Law No.2 of 2010, as amended which TIMAAS derives its powers from only stipulated fines ranging N500 to N10, 000 for various categories of offences. It also provided for a mobile court where traffic offenders could be tried. So, where did Osama derive his wide power to fine motorists between N60, 000 to N300, 000?
It is said that TIMAAS had become an ‘extortionist agency’ with the way it had abandoned its core mandate of checking indiscipline among motorists to confiscate vehicles and tow them away to its yard along Obikabia road. What matters to Bright Chinedu Ikokwu is the collection of exorbitant fines through intimidation of motorists who he blackmails with name of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. Motorists, especially haulage trucks, now dread Aba because as they say, the fear of Osama is the beginning of wisdom. He can seize and detain your vehicle indefinitely if you can’t afford the exorbitant fines he charges.
It is pertinent to state that nobody is against TIMAAS and its mandate of maintaining discipline on the roads. But the agency must operate within the confines of the law establishing it. A situation where TIMAAS and Ikokwu see itself as above the law must not be condoned by right thinking members of the society.
Aba residents have been in shock over the silence of the Abia State government to the excesses of Bright Chinedu Ikokwu and his TIMAAS, until a poorly fabricated article with the caption; “TIMAAS: WHEN INDISCIPLINE FIGHTS BACK AT ABA” by one John Okiyi Kalu, who claims to be the Commissioner for Information in Abia State, surfaced in the social media.
The ‘cock and bull’ article by Okiyi who is popularly known as ‘JOK’, is characteristic of Ikpeazu’s media aides and information managers of the Abia State government to regale the public with lies and propaganda. Perhaps, JOK’s lack of formal training in journalism could be blamed for this. In journalism, facts are sacred, but it is understand that JOK must lie to earn his pay. This is why things are the way they are in Abia State. What a trash to say that supported Uche Ogah ? Even if it is true, should his businesses be grounded because of his political interest?
Now, Is JOK pretending not to have heard about the continued lamentations of motorists in Aba about the excesses of TIMAAS under Osama who had become a law unto himself , impounding and detaining vehicles ,levying exorbitant fees at his discretion , contrary to the law which set up TIMAAS? Is JOK not aware that TIMAAS under Osama had abandoned its core mandate and gone into debt collection, locking up stores and restaurants and arresting people on flimsy excuses? Is JOK not aware that Osama now uses siren and police escort, terrorizing the same motorists he was meant to protect? One last point; Is JOK not aware that when confronted on his excesses, Osama usually drops Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s name, challenging anyone to report him to the governor who he claims, can’t sack him from office? Is JOK not aware that businessmen particularly those involved in haulage business are gradually relocating from Aba as a result of Osama’s excesses of impounding their trucks and charging N300, 000? Why is JOK pretending that haulage trucks now stay on the outskirts of Aba until nightfall because of the fear of Osama? This was confirmed by Governor Ikpeazu during his interactive programme at Magic Fm, last week. So, Is JOK not calling Ikpeazu a liar?
WHY WAS OSAMA ARRESTED BY SARS IN ABA AND DETAINED AT ABUJA
Osama’s arrest by operatives of the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (FSARS) on November 9 came following a petition by Chief Emeka Diwe, Managing Director of Unik D Limited, an agro marketing company. On January 18, 2017, Osama invaded Unik D company premises along Eziukwu road, Aba with over 20 policemen and soldiers and impounded 3 trucks on the grounds that one Chief Ifeanyichukwu Adinnu reported to him that Unik D trucks overlapped into his (Adinnu’s) portion of the road. It is important to state that Unik D trucks were not obstructing the road, as its trucks are always parked by the roadside. The company has a parking permit issued by the Aba South local government area. On the day he impounded Unik D trucks, there were over 50 trucks belonging to other companies parked on both sides of Eziukwu road from Mr. Biggs to Okigwe road junction, yet Osama singled out Unik D trucks which were being pointed out to them by Chief Adinnu and one of his staff. The right thinking public should ignore JOK’s lies that TIMAAS wrote to Unik D for any reason before they invaded the company in a commando style. People like JOK may not know how TIMAAS is run. Osama does not have time to write a letter to any individual or organization. He is only interested in impounding your vehicle, intimidating you to pay any amount of fine he wishes. Is this the method government agencies are run? The idea of TIMAAS as copied from Lagos’ LASTMA and Rivers’ TIMARIV is a laudable one, but you don’t run such agencies with a thug like Osama. Yet, the likes of JOK see nothing with such anomaly, perhaps due to the crumbs he gets from Osama’s table.
Two days after impounding the trucks, Osama demanded Unik D Limited to pay N130, 000 each to reclaim the 3 trucks. When he realized that Chief Diwe had refused to be intimidated, Osama resorted to threats of running him out of Aba and seizing his trucks anywhere they were sighted on the road. On March 18, true to his threats, Osama impounded another truck belonging to Unik D Limited which was conveying goods worth N18 million to the North, but had a bad tyre along Aba Owerri in Aba. The tyre was being fixed when Osama stormed the scene and towed the truck away. All efforts to make him release the perishable goods which had a life span of 2 months fell on deaf ears as he threatened to impound any Unik D truck found on the road. Not done with Unik D, Osama seized a Scania truck .It didn’t matter to Osama that the trucks makes a daily return of N150, 000 daily and employs over 100 staff who are suffering the effect of the illegal seizure on the company.
Meanwhile the Abia State Road Traffic Law No.2 of 2010, as amended, provided that a broken down vehicle has 6 hours to be fixed or towed away from the road. But Osama has been consumed by greed to extort vehicle owners with no iota of respect for the law that established TIMAAS.
Chief Diwe petitioned the immediate past Police Area Commander in Aba, ACP Peter Wagbara on his ordeal with Osama. On the day Wagbara invited both for discussion; Osama was already at the Area Commander’s office where he and Wagbara enjoyed their favourite drink. Realizing that the Area Commander has been biased, Chief Diwe petitioned the zone 9 Police command, Umuahia.
It took AIG Hosea Karma four from the date the case was reported to invite Osama to make a statement and detained him. It was discovered that AIG Karma only took this action when he learnt that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has ordered the case file to be sent to Force headquarters, Abuja. Rather than honour police invitation at zone 9, Osama wrote a counter petition with the letter of the Governor of Abia State that Chief Diwe was planning to assassinate Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. The police investigated this to be baseless, but refused to charge him for false information. On the day he was detained at the zone 9, police sources said Governor Ikpeazu and other senior members of his administration including the Attorney General, Chief Umeh Kalu(SAN), kept harassing AIG Karma to release Osama, even before he could make a statement to the Police.
When the case file got to Abuja, Osama was invited by the SARS who were detailed to investigate the matter by the IGP, but he refused to honour the invitation. The Attorney General of Abia State, Chief Umeh Kalu (SAN) procured a suspected court order from the State High Court barring SARS from inviting and arresting Osama. This angered the SARS authorities who stormed Aba and arrested Osama at the Aba Area Command premises on November 9, despite efforts by the Abia State government to compromise the team. It has been revealed that Governor Ikpeazu was made to personally sign the bail bond for the notorious Osama as the SARS team was said to have insisted that they would allow any other person to bail except the governor due to the avalanche of petitions on criminal matters against Osama.
The question is; what is the deal between Osama and Governor Ikpeazu? Why has the governor found it difficult to sack or even suspend Osama, despite his numerous atrocities which have continued to paint Ikpeazu and Abia government in bad light? Could there be any skeleton which Osama may be covering for Governor Ikpeazu that he is always in a haste to bail him wherever he is detained? Why will Chief Umeh Kalu, a SAN, the Abia Attorney General, the chief law officer of a state who ought to maintain law and order, but always seek to bail Osama whenever he runs into trouble? It was said that the SARS authorities threatened to arrest Chief Umeh Kalu for harassing them over Osama’s detention, and described him as a disgrace to his office. May I remind JOK that Ikpeazu was twice petitioned on the illegal seizure of Unik D trucks and the continued harassment of the company by Osama, yet the Governor failed to acknowledge the petitions duly delivered to his office through courier service?
Now, to the so called Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi Kalu, who lied that Osama was never detained, but was at the Abia State Government Lodge Abuja. Osama was arrested by SARS on Thursday November 9, and detained till Sunday. Has Osama told you he urinated on trousers at the point of his arrest at the Aba Area Command? Has he also told you that he started crying, “Call me my wife o, call me Okezie, you know I’m hypertensive? Let’s go the Governor, he will settle you people” The likes of Osama are one of the many reasons why Governor Ikpeazu cannot perform. There is no way a governor who gets advices from thugs like Osama can perform. It is impossible. Can JOK explain the jubilation in Aba as soon as news of Osama’s arrest filtered in?
Now check John Okiyi Kalu’s level of reasoning… “Who is the loser in all these? The trucks are unfortunately still parked and not making money for Unik D Limited. Osama and TIMAAS are continuing their jobs at Aba without let or hindrance.”
JOK’s reasoning tells a lot about the deplorable state of affairs in Abia and how charlatans have taken over governance in the state. How does one expect Governor Ikpeazu to perform magic with this calibre of aides like JOK who cannot tell him the truth that Osama’s excesses have caused businessmen to relocate from Aba as noted by Ikpeazu.
Yes, Unik D Limited is losing revenue with the illegal seizure of his 5 trucks, bus and his perished goods worth N18 million. But certainly, Abia State government, Governor Ikpeazu and the right thinking residents of the state are even losing more. No investor takes Abia government serious, as evident in the failure of any investor to invest in the state despite Ikpeazu numerous jamborees abroad to woo them. Where is the $1.5 billion shoe industry which Ikpeazu claims to have brought to Aba? Have the investors who were to revive Enyimba hotel not ran away due to the unfavourable business climate in Abia state, especially Aba? Businesses who dared to operate under the harsh operating environment and have suffocated under multiple taxation, and Osama’s intimidation like Unik D Limited ,ought to be encouraged by Ikpeazu, contrary to the ongoing efforts to run the company out of Aba
In fact, common sense is important to government aides, especially commissioners of Information. Ikpeazu’s administration is too alienated from the mass. JOK should take note.
Sam Esiaba, wrote in from Aba.