There was pandemonium in the Ogbogoro axis of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State on Thursday when a man attached to a task force allegedly punched a tricycle driver identified as Esikak Esieme to death following an argument over N200 ticket levy.
It was gathered that the taskforce officials had waved Esieme who was carrying a passenger to a stop and demanded the money, but the former explained that he had just begun business for the day and didn’t have the amount they requested yet.
An argument ensued immediately and in the process, one of the task force members who is alleged to be a cultist identified as ‘Osisi’ punched the 39-year-old keke driver who slumped immediately.
It was gathered that some of the victim’s colleagues immediately rushed him to the hospital where they said he was pronounced dead.
Peeved by news of his passing, the tricycle drivers began a protest to express their grievances, saying the daily harassment and extortion they suffered from Osisi and his men was unbearable, even as they recounted the brawl that led to Esieme’s demise with bitterness.
The angry tricycle operators temporarily shut down operations and marched from Ogbogoro to the complex of a popular Radio Station (Cool/Wazobia/Info FM) in Port Harcourt, demanding justice for their late colleague.
Speaking, the President of the Tricycle Union in Ogbogoro Community, Ivumba Friday, accused Osisi of being behind the incident, describing the latter as a ‘cultist’ and ‘hoodlum’ who has made life uncomfortable for the keke drivers.
Friday further said the illegal levies imposed on the keke drivers by the suspect and his group have been going on in the area unabated, saying the hoodlums have severally molested a vigilante group codenamed OSPAC in Ogbogoro without any attempt to arrest them.
He stated, “Nsikak Esieme was murdered this morning by one Osisi, a cultist that has been terrorizing Ogbogoro and our people on a daily basis. We have been reporting this matter to OSPAC, even to the police.
“Somebody should come and arrest this particular hoodlum that has been terrorizing keke people. The OSPAC will aid the Osisi in question to escape. Many times he used to break their windscreen in Ogbogoro.
“Our keke people are law-abiding and they pay their levies on a daily basis. Up till now that I speak to you, we don’t know the whereabouts of the corpse of our member that died.”
The deceased’s elder brother, Lucky Esieme, while narrating what transpired, first demanded the release of his late brother’s corpse to the family.
“When I left work to go to my house, I saw my younger brother’s wife in my house telling me that on the way he carried a passenger to Ogbogoro junction.
“On reaching there the task force people asked him to give them N200. He told them he just came out and that he hasn’t worked. From there they hit my brother in the stomach.
“He fell down, and they rushed him to the hospital. Later they said they took him out of the hospital. Till now, I don’t know where his corpse is. I want to see my brother’s body and know how we will bury him,” he explained while fighting back tears.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko, said she was yet to receive a report on the incident, as she has been in a marathon meeting.