By Samuel Oyadongha
YENAGOA —Commercial tricycle operators in Bayelsa State, popularly known as Keke Napep, yesterday protested against the alleged excessive use of force and extortion by policemen on the roads following the hitting of a pregnant woman by a policeman along Azikoro Road, Ekeki in Yenagoa.
The policeman, said to be an Inspector, was said to have hit the pregnant woman while trying to hit a Keke Napep driver with his gunbutt for refusing to part with a N50 bribe.
Though some security operatives described the action of the inspector as “careless” and denied the alleged use of the rifle butt, the irate protesters claimed the action of the police led to excessive bleeding by the pregnant women from the mouth.
The victim, according to the protesters, was rushed to Glory Land Hospital.
Attempts by the protesters to barricade the premises of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) along the Azikoro Road was thwarted by armed policemen who fired tear gas.
The incident attracted the attention of newsmen who had gone to the NUJ to cover an assignment.
One of the protesting Keke Napep drivers described as unbecoming the activities of policemen at check points in the state capital.
He said: “This is a small state but the amount paid as bribe to policemen is exorbitant and fearful. Can you imagine we pay as much as N600 daily?
“It is wrong and criminal. Most of our passengers are embarrassed by these policemen at night. They extort us and some of the passengers. They call everyone criminal. This is wrong.”
Contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Alex Akhigbe, said he was not aware of the incident.