By Boluwaji Obahopo
Lokoja—THE ever-busy Abuja-Lokoja Highway was completely locked down yesterday, by protesting truck drivers over the killing of their colleague, Suleiman Ibrahim, by officials of Kogi State Revenue Board for non-payment of N5,000 toll.
Many travellers were stranded on both ends of the Murtala Mohammed Bridge in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
An eyewitness told newsmen at Akpanya, near the bridge, that the driver was flagged down at about 1a.m yesterday, by revenue collectors from Kogi Agricultural Produce Board.
The witness, who preferred anonymity, said the deceased was on transit from the Northern part of the country to the South, when the revenue collectors allegedly demanded money from him.
He alleged that the late driver told them that he had only N1,500 and could only part with N1,000, which drew the collectors’ ire.
This resulted to argument, during which the driver was hit on the head with clubs. The driver was said to have collapsed and eventually died.
In the ensuing melee following his death, the Abuja-Lokoja Road was blocked, resulting in heavy gridlock which left many travellers from both sides stranded.
Union, Police confirm incident
The Chairman of the Kogi State chapter of National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Alhaji Tanko Ali, who also confirmed the development, said the truck was coming from Maiduguri and was accosted by the revenue men around 1a.m.
He said that the failure of the driver to pay certain dues led to an argument, during which they allegedly descended on him and in the process, he was beaten to death.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP William Aya, confirmed that the truck driver had issues with the agricultural produce revenue collectors.
He also confirmed that the issue led to blockage of the road, but denied any knowledge of death of the driver or anyone else at the scene.
He said the Police, in collaboration with other security agencies, were working hard to clear the road.
The situation almost degenerated when the Deputy Governor of the State, Elder Simon Achuba, who was at the scene around 11a.m., tried to pacify the motorists.
He was allegedly rebuffed and chased away as the truck drivers demanded to see the Governor, who they wanted to personally commiserate with them before they will leave the scene.