By Eric Ugbor
Abaâ€”Two Persons, a policeman and a civilian wereÂ killed yesterday,Â when securitymen said to be from the Ndiegoro police station in Aba, Abia State clashed with a group of people in an attempt to arrest motorcycle operators, popularly called Okada, operating along the deplorable Aba-Obohia Road, traversing the three councils of Aba South, Ugwuwgbo and Ukwa East.
The incident happened at about 4pm, yesterday, whenÂ the Okada operators gathered at the Umumba and Bonsack Junctions of Obohia Road,Â waiting for the rural dwellers,Â who after trading at Aba township markets, patronize them as their onlyÂ mode of transportation back to the villages in the three councils.
The activities of the security operatives had been on the increase since last year, when the state government banned the operation of motorcyclists within the state and Okada riders since then, were arrested and made to pay a minimum of N10,000 to bail themselves andÂ their bikes on each case.
But authorities within the three councils seemed to have relaxed slightly on the enforcement of the government order,Â understandably because of the dilapidated and deplorable state of the Aba-Obohia Road from Nkwo Ngwa, which is impassable by vehicles during both dry and rainy seasons.
But the securitymen, hiding under the government ban, have continuously terrorised the Okada operators and in most cases, the Okada operators run and abandone their motorcycles, which are seized and packed at different police stations in Aba, until owners pay the stipulated sum.
Worried by the incessant security harassments and extortions, the Okada operators, supported by people in these rural areas had resolved recently at a meeting to confront the securitymen, possibly to attract the attention of government to their peculiar plight.
But the confrontation turned bloody, yesterdayÂ when the two lives were lost, while many others sustained injuries while several others are presently in detention at the Ndigoro Police station in Aba.
One of the Okada riders, who identified himself as Emeka Nwaekeke, who abandoned his bike, told Vanguard that â€œthe securitymen stationed informants around the area and anytime they want money, they come here to arrest us and our bikes and our bikes spend days at the police station until we are able to pay the sum of N10,000.â€
He said, â€œthey came at about 4pm and arrested Okada riders and their motorcycles at Umumba Junction before moving over to Bonsack and it was there that the Okada riders confronted them, leading to the death of the two men.â€
He explained that the security menâ€™s informant was matcheted to death while one of the securitymen, was clubbed to death by the angry Okada operators.