By VINCENT UJUMADU
AWKA – BUSINESS activities were disrupted, Wednesday, in the commercial city of Onitsha following violent protests by hundreds of youths over the alleged killing of a staff of the Anambra State Transport Agency, ASTA, by a trailer driver of Northern extraction.
Vanguard gathered that the Hausa driver, who was travelling from Owerri in Imo State to Onitsha, was stopped at Ihiala for a check and when he failed to stop, an official of ASTA jumped into the passengers’ side beside the driver, apparently to force him to stop.
However, the driver sped off towards Onitsha, forcing ASTA officials in Ihiala to contact their colleagues in Onitsha via telephone to intercept the vehicle.
According to the report, when the vehicle was stopped at Onitsha, a lifeless body of the ASTA official, still in his uniform, was seen in the vehicle.
An eye witness who spoke to Vanguard said: “The trailer driver, who is an Hausa man was stopped by the ASTA people at Ihiala and when he refused to stop, one of the ASTA men jumped into the trailer to direct him to clear off the road.
“When the driver noticed that the ASTA man had entered his vehicle, he zoomed off. At that point, other members of the team started making calls to their colleagues and this led to the interception of the driver as he was already heading towards the Head bridge in Onitsha to cross to Asaba in Delta State.
“When the vehicle was searched, the lifeless body of the ASTA man was discovered with his hands tied behind him and fresh blood gushing out from his mouth and other parts of the body. There were also signs of injuries, indicating that there had been a scuffle.
“On hearing of the development, youths at the Upper Iweka-Head bridge axis mobilized themselves to attack the Hausa traders selling goats and onions at the Head bridge area of Onitsha.
“The youths, out of anger, set the trailer ablaze while the driver was lucky to escape as he ran towards soldiers in the area who whisked him away in their vehicle to avoid his being lynched.”
At the time Vanguard visited the Head bridge, Wednesday, all the Hausa traders and other non natives had fled Onitsha to Asaba, while others rushed into the 302 Artillery Brigade in Onitsha and nearby police stations for safety.