· Staff of Imo civil Guard, others arraigned
-Confirm arrest,detention of ex-commissioner
Eights Staff Imo Traffic Management Authority,ISTMA who were arrested by the police and detained at the Criminal Investigation Department of Imo state police command, arraigned at a magistrate court 1 after which they spent 17 days in detention have cried out over what they described as miscarriage of justice, transferred aggression and inhumanity.
The aggrieved staff who pleaded anonymity narrated how the recently sacked Commissioner for Transport, Barr Rex Anunobi (Sokom) unilaterally recruited them into the Imo State Traffic Management Agency without the consent of the Commandant General of Imo civil guards, Martin Ekeh and posted them to several beats to collect revenue from offenders and violators of traffic rules within the state capital.
According to them, “about 250 of us were picked from Imo Civil Guards by the former commissioner for Transport. Though, we were owed about 23 months’ salary before he drafted us into the Imo State Traffic Management Authority ISTMA without the consent of our commandant. He told us that we will be on probation for 2 months before receiving salary. Some of us were sent to the office of the Environmental Transportation Company, ENTRACO, some to ICAPS, etc. We were provided with receipts and ledgers which we issued to offenders who paid various amounts of money as fine.
“Those charged for driving on one way paid N25,000, each while those apprehended for obstruction or wrong packing etc paid between N5000 and N10,000 into designated bank accounts, while those who for one reason or the other could not pay into the bank account, paid us cash which we usually gave to the former commissioner’s aide and confidant who doubled as head of Imo VIO,Frank Uche ,which money amounted to millions of naira”.
We did not recruit or post ourselves to the beats. Neither was the money collected paid into our private bank accounts, yet when the burble burst, we were arrested, alongside Frank while the commissioner who should be held responsible because we all acted on his instruction did not spend a night in detention. He was arrested at about 7pm and released at about 11pm same day. As if that was not enough injustice, his name was struck out of the charge sheet and replaced with that of an innocent person who came there to seek employment”.
They further disclosed that, “eight of us were arrested and detained on the same day. Two days later, Barr Anunobi was arrested and released after making written statement. About a week later, he was brought to the police station and detained in the same cell with us. He was however released after about 4 hours and his name subsequently wiped off the list of detainees and also on the charge sheet, while he should be charged as the major culprit because he recruited, posted, equipped and instructed us on what to do, how much to collect,etc. Even Frank who directly supervised our activities, often said that he was acting on the directives of the commissioner with whom was constantly in touch.”
“To worsen the situation, each of us paid the sum of N40,000 before we were granted bail while the case was adjourned to June 23, 2021. It is saddening that despite being owed salary for the past 24 months, we were unlawfully detained for 17 days and still being subjected to mental, emotional, physical and psychological torture for obeying official directive issued by a commissioner who the police questionably exonerated.”
They called on the Imo state house of assembly, the Attorney General and commissioner for justice and other relevant agencies to wade into the matter to ensure that justice prevails.
Effort to reach the ex-commissioner for reaction on the development proved abortive as he did not take his calls or returned same.