…As injured driver seeks N400,000 for treatment
By Ochuko Akuopha, UGHELLI
THE serene Okpara community, Ethiope East Local Government Area, Delta State, was jolted Tuesday night, as gun-trotting hoodlums lurking around the railway station on the outskirts of the community, attacked a Siena bus conveying passengers from the facility.
The passengers had alighted from the train plying the Itakpe/Warri and some of them were being conveyed by the bus to their destinations when they were ambushed by the gunmen, who shot at them with the driver, Mr Kenoma Evwienure, sustaining bullet injuries while the passengers fled into surrounding bushes.
The attack came one month after vigilante team members foiled an attack on the rail station in the nearby Abraka community by suspected herdsmen.
Giving details of the attack, yesterday, at the Ughelli Central Hospital where he is receiving treatment, the driver, Evwienure, said: “On that fateful day, the train came late; normally, it comes between 6.20 pm and 6.50 pm but that day it arrived at about 9 pm. Unknown to us, some gunmen were hiding around the rail station.
“I loaded some passengers that were going to Aghalokpe near Sapele; they were well dressed and it looked like they came for a ceremony. The first Okada took somebody and left. As l was going, a Keke was following me from behind. Suddenly, just about 200 metres from the rail station, some men jumped into the road and were flashing their touch lights.
“As l didn’t reduce my speed, they shot at the vehicle. Everybody was shouting ‘blood of Jesus’ and I didn’t stop. They had barricaded the road but l hit one of the barricades and they shot another bullet and I dodged to the left. Unknown to me, there was another guy by the left lurking in the corner.
“He shot at the door of the vehicle at close range. The bullets pierced through the door and hit my left lap. As l continued escaping, they shot sporadically not knowing that they shot the gearbox. The oil in the gearbox started pouring and the vehicle stopped after we have got to safety.
“That was how the passengers now disembarked and ran away. I came out of the vehicle but I couldn’t walk. I then crawled into the bush and it was an Okada rider that took me to a nearby hospital at Oviorie where I was given first aid treatment.
“I took X-ray which revealed that l have a fracture on my left leg and bullets deep down the bones and now l have been told l need over N400,000 to treat the leg.
“Luckily, the local vigilante and hunters came and chased the hoodlums away, because the people that were still at the rail station, on hearing the gunshots ran into the bush but some of the gunmen went after them as they couldn’t get us.
“My vehicle was destroyed and I am now battling to walk again because I can’t stand up now, but I am very glad that I was able to thwart the kidnapping efforts of the gunmen.”
Contacted, Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, Mr Bright Edafe, said: “What happened was when the train dropped some passengers, it continued its journey. Those passengers entered the vehicle taking them to town and the hoodlums attempted to attack them.
“The good thing was that it was not successful because the passengers opened the Siena and ran into the bush. Nobody died except the driver that was hit by a bullet.”