The Human Rights Liberty Access and Peace Defenders’ Foundation (HURIDE) and Campaign for Democracy (CD), South East Zone, have asked Anambra State Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo to immediately disband the Anambra State Road Management Agency (ARTMA) as it is currently constituted.
The groups also called on the Governor to constitute a new ARTMA, made of people with character, who are professionally trained to do the work with a human face.
They are also alleging that the present Commander of the agency, Nnamdi Emmanuel, should be relieved of his duty and arrested for corruption for being behind the criminal extortion of road users in the State.
The rights groups in a statement made available to newsmen on Monday, said the disbandment of the agency has become imperative to stem the tide of alleged corruption, abuse, high-handedness and criminalities exhibited by the men of the agency against road users in Anambra State.
The statement signed by Dede Uzor A Uzor, Executive Director, HURIDE and Chairman, CD in the South East zone, said the agency has abandoned its statutory duty of managing traffics on the Anambra roads and engaged in abuse and extortion of road users.
The groups said the state cannot set up an organisation like ARTMA purposely for profit motives, lamenting that their unconventional operation of just impounding vehicles and extorting money negates their statutory duty.
They noted that the ARTMA had remapped some major streets and roads in the State and made them one-way without adequate publicity to sensitise motorists and other road users.
“They cash in on the ignorance of the motorists that some places have been turned into one way to impound people’s vehicles and extort huge sums of money ranging from N30, 000 to N100, 000 depending on the vehicle, especially Niger-under-Bridge,” said the groups.
Continuing, the group said “If you introduce a new law, you publicise it so that the public will know about it. Don’t use it as a bait to impound vehicles and impose outrageous fines.
“Unfortunately, the ARTMA officials sometimes lure drivers where to park, then they would impound the vehicle and extort and collect huge sums of money from their victims.”
The group also frowned at the carrying of POS machines around by ARTMA operatives which they give their victims to transfer money from their bank accounts with white buses as a notorious most dangerous group.
“Most of the traffic offenders are commercial vehicles but the operatives looked the other way and most times, go for private cars where they can get huge amount of money.
“Onitsha Owerri road is the most trafficked road but they look the other way because they are commercial vehicles.
“One pathetic case was that of a private school bus, Promise International School in Onitsha which was impounded and detained for one week but was released after the payment of N22, 500,” the groups revealed.
Meanwhile, the Director of Operations, Anambra Road Traffic Management Agency, ATMA, Mr Samuel Ezenduka had recently while speaking on the level of their preparedness to tackle traffic in Onitsha Commercial city and environs during the yuletide and beyond, noted that the main challenge they face in traffic management is man-made but said they have deployed their men at strategic points, who will run on shift basis to ensure they work through the night.
He lamented the attitude of some commercial bus drivers who drive vehicles that should be off the road this period to make quick money, pointing out that such vehicles spoil on the road thereby causing gridlock.
The ATMA Director of operations warned such drivers to desist from using such vehicles because they will face the consequences of their action once they tow such vehicles.
He further said that drivers of impounded vehicles must be compelled to go for psychiatric test and also do a public service.
Mr. Ezenduka also used the opportunity to warn those who display their wares along the road to stop henceforth to avoid falling victim and pleaded with Ndi-Anambra to give maximum support to the agency to enable them discharge their duties effectively.
He also advised his officers to work according to laid down rules while urging the state citizenry to report any miss-conduct on the part of the ATMA officials.