Reports of extortion, harassment, intimidation and physical assault of innocent people by staff of the Environmental Transformation Company (ENTRACO) has taken a new dimension as they reportedly beat an Owerri based lawyer, who was simply identified as Barr Opara to stupor at a point along Owerri-Aba road on Wednesday.

An eyewitness who does not want his name in print told our correspondent that the overzealous staff of ENTRACO, often take advantage of the military check point close to their office to perpetrate all kinds of atrocities against people.

‘’Most times, they falsely accuse motorists of not obeying the traffic lights. They use that as a ploy to extort money from them, when in the actual fact, they didn’t commit any traffic offence’’.

‘’For instance, the lawyer they beat to stupor on Wednesday didn’t commit any offence. The green light was still on when he drove by. I witnessed all that happened. When they approached him, he quietly explained to them that the green light was on when he drove by. They refused to listen because they had made up their mind to extort money from him. When they noticed that he was not forthcoming, they started removing his number plate. When the man protested they descended on him with full force. The man at that point drove straight to the military men were, probably to save himself from further onslaught’’.

When contacted the victim, Barr Opara said, he was on his way back from the court when they flagged him down, claiming that he disobeyed the traffic light.

‘’I quietly explained to them that the green light was still on when I drove past. But they were adamant. All of a sudden, one of them started removing the number plate of my car. When I protested, his colleagues rushed and started throwing punches at me. When I notice that they have become extremely violent, I drove off to where the soldiers were, not knowing that one of the lawyers in my office who was with me in the car was left behind, I  went back to get him. The moment they sighted me coming, they rushed at me again, as if they were dealing with a criminal’’.

Most people in the vicinity expressed concern about how the staff of ENTRACO unleash mayhem on innocent people in their desperate bid to extort money from them. ‘’Most times, they falsely accuse them of violating the traffic light which we know is not true. They attach themselves to the military check points to gain legitimacy while perpetrating their nefarious and fraudulent activities.

‘’We are afraid that, with the way they are going, they will kill somebody there one day if they are not called to order’’.

Our correspondent also saw them harassing and collecting money from shops owners along Tetlow Road, School Road and adjoining streets yesterday. Some of the shop owners who said they were compelled to pay between #1,500 and #2000 monthly for the projections infront of their shops showed receipts with which they paid for between #15,000 and #24,000 for one year at the rate of either #1,500 or #2,000 monthly.

They called on the state government to curtail the excesses of the ENTRACO before it dents the image of the Governor and the state government especially now that the governorship election is around the corner.

Effort to reach the ENTRACO General manager,Engr Franklin Nkemakolam proved abortive as he didn’t not take his call or return same.