My name is Hon. Chisom John, the Leader Umuahia North Legislative Council, And by the grace of God, the Chairman ATRIWA Umuahia Chapter.
Precisely on Wednesday 20th of May 2020, I was informed by my Vice Chairman that one of our members who drove against traffic(one way) was apprehended by members of the Transport And Indiscipline Management Agency of Abia State TIMAAS and that as Usual they are demanding Fifty Thousand Naira as Fine for the offence and that his Tricycle has been impounded and taken to their office.
Because it was late and I was very busy at the border being a member of the Umuahia North Covid-19 Task Force, I told him that I will try to reach out to the Deputy General Manager Mr. Smart Uwakwe to beg him to reduce the outrageous fine our people are daily made to pay for traffic offences, which we daily strive to ensure our members obey.
Thus, yesterday Thursday the 21st of May 2020, I called Mr Smart and pleaded. I explained to him that these Keke Riders are currently facing a lot of challenges, occasioned by the Pandemic and the attendant restrictions in time and the curfew.
I also informed him that the erring Keke rider has raised Ten Thousand Naira for the fine but he insisted, telling me that the fine was supposed to be Seventy Five Thousand Naira but because the erring Keke man involved a senior police officer, he can only collect Forty Thousand Naira, last.
He further threatened that if we call him again about the same matter that we will pay Seventy Five Thousand Naira.
I had no option that to call our state Chairman Barr. St Moses Ogbonna to inform him of what was going on and to see if there is a way he can intervene to make the burden of our people lighter given his contacts and connections.
Few minutes later, Our Chairman Called Me back and told me to call Mr Smart, that there is an information he will give me.
I called Mr. Smart only for him to inform me that Keke riders are holding his workers hostage at Isi-gate.
I immediately called my Vice because I was busy at the border and my Vice Informed me that it was not ATRIWA members that were having issues with TIMAAS rather another Keke Union, SATOA.
He told me that TIMAAS workers also impounded another some Keke, belonging to SATOA member and that they are currently along Item Street near Isi-gate.
He also told me that Mr. Smart has ordered his men to release our member’s Keke to us and I was relaxed and faced my duty at the border.
I was shuddered later to read the News headlines accusing our people of being behind Mr. Smart’s ordeal that same evening.
I am still in shock that Mr. Smart could make such an unfounded allegation against our people who had remained law abiding and using only peaceful to secure the release of the impounded Tricycle.
I want Abians and government to remember that there are two major Keke Unions in Abia State ATRIWA and SATOA and we are identified by our unique colours.
ATRIWA’s colour is White & Green, while ASATOA Green and Brown.
Those who have the pictures of what happened at Isi-gate should please revisit the pictures or take a look at the ones I shared here to know those involved in this fracas.
Before I conclude I have few questions for Mr. Smart who is accusing ATRIWA of being behind his travails.
What moral justification do our members have to attack you after you had released our member’s Keke in your custody?
How will our members attack you when it was my Vice chairman that went with you to look for a Vulcanizer?
Can you deny that your workers impounded Tricycles belonging to Members of SATOA and that they where demanding for an unconditional release of the Keke that yesterday.
How come you did not mention that event in your statement?
Mr Smart, take your time and look at the Colours of the Keke parked at the scene of the event, does your conscience still allow you to accuse ATRIWA of being behind your ordeals?
Except there is any other thing you want to achieve with this blackmail, a case of calling a dog bad name in order to hang it, what we expect is an unreserved apology for this misfiring but we wouldn’t press it further given the fact that you were a victim of mob action.
My Vice Chairman whose Keke was vandalized yesterday because he stood with you is so ashamed and disappointed in the way you are paying him back for standing with you.
In all, Posterity is the greatest judge in all events!
Our Prayers : Our Prayer as a Union is for security agencies and government to properly investigate this matter to fish out the hoodlums behind this unruly act and speedily bring them to justice.
I will also request that government look into these outrageous fines imposed on poor Keke operators, especially in Umuahia, men who suffer daily to eke out a living.
Finally I want to reiterate here that Keke riders under ATRIWA, are not men who take laws into their hands if not we wouldn’t be calling and pleading with money, for our Keke to be released.
In all we sympathize with Mr. Smart for the treatment we learnt he received at Isi-gate but knowing how busy that location is and the crop of people who hang out their I want to restate that is an error to accuse ATRIWA of being behind that act.
Hon. Chisom John
Chairman ATRIWA Umuahia Chapter