Commercial bus drivers plying Aba Umuahia route has raised fresh allegation on extortion, intimidation and physical abuse on drivers by one Tochi Ephraim and his boys parading Osisioma axis of the commercial city of Aba enforcing illegal levy of five thousand naira (5,000) on drivers against the approved revenue rate to be paid online to Abia Government as directed by Governor Alex Otti.
CANDIDREPORTERS.COM recalls that in August, some protesting Driver’s Union, came to register same grievances on the illegal activities of same Tochi Ephraim and his men, who in defiance against the Government directives, imposed on the drivers along Osisioma Flyover, all sorts of illegal levies.
Addressing the protesters in August, the Abia State Deputy Governor, Engr. Ikechukwu Emetu, said; the drivers’ message has be well delivered and they should be assure that the governor of the State would be duly informed and actions will be taken immediately.
In a latest development, protesting drivers stormed Flo-fm Umuahia on Wednesday to register same grievances and said they have parked their vehicles because Tochi is imposing a fresh 5,000 naira daily levy with threat on any driver who fails to pay mandatory levy.
Speaking to newsmen, Emmanuel, one of the drivers said; ‘Tochi vowed to kill any driver who fails to pay the mandatory 5,000 naira daily levy no matter where they run to. With the threat Tochi has given, the chairman of our park has ran away to save his life. If the governor has decided to allow Tochi to intimidate us and collect 5,000 naira, he should tell us so that we will look for something else to do’. Another angry driver said.
The aggrieved drivers also alleged that Tochi claimed that he paid thirty million naira (30,000000) to Abia state government to secure the bid for revenue collection from drivers at Osisioma in Aba.
Meanwhile, the protesting drivers also revealed that they do pay six hundred naira (600) as revenue to Abia state government on daily basis via online payment and cannot shoulder additional levy from Tochi.
‘This morning, Tochi’s boys came out and demanded for 5,000 after I have paid my daily tax but Tochi ordered his boys to start flogging us, as he vowed to get his money back.’ One of the drivers said.
The protesting drivers however demand that the Abia state government’s response on the latest development is paramount because Governor Alex Otti promised to chase away touts to bring sanity to Aba and the plight of commercial drivers in the state.
They however also revealed that before this new development, they have witnessed relative peace since the governor gave the order to stop illegal collection of levy from commercial drivers in Aba.
‘We buy fuel for over 600 naira and on hired purchase vehicle which most of us are to pay about ten million naira (10,000000). Tochi has no vehicle but he is richer than us. We can’t survive this addition levy by Tochi and his group.’ The drivers pleaded.
The drivers also hinted that Tochi has formed a park at Osisioma against the governor’s order as they also parade the area with 18 seater bus molesting drivers around Osisioma.
In August 2023, after CANDIDREPORTERS.COM reports about the extortion Tochi Ephraim refuted the allegation with a press release.
In his release, titled ‘TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN’, Tochi posited that immediately the government suspended all revenue collection in the state, he has never collected any revenue from anyone because he is aware that his contract has been terminated. He challenged anyone with facts to come forward and provide evidence of him collecting any form of levies or forever desist from disparaging his name and labelling him a lawless citizen of this state
Tochi went ahead to threaten those disparaging his name as he will soon seek legal means of redress.
Effort to reach the accused Tochi Ephraim as the time of filling this report proved abortive.