Activities of VIO in Warri and Environs: An abuse of power
By Godwin Utuedoye
WARRI- COMMERCIAL and private car owners as well as tricycle riders popularly known as “Keke” have frowned at the manners and aggressive approach by the officials of the Vehicle Inspectorate Division, V.I.O, an arm of the ministry of transport in Delta State as they daily harass, fight and abuse car owners and keke riders on the road.
A tricycle rider, who identified himself as Chinedu Ezeukwo, told our reporter that the official of the VIO has turned their duty to that of power and force.
He accused the men of the VIO of illegal extortion of money, unlawful removal of motor batteries and car keys as well as impounding of vehicles illegally and using of woods and sticks on vehicles and their owners as if they are robbers.
Mr. Chinedu who alledge that officials of the V.I.O are always at a particular spot at the Bowen Avenue Junction off Orion Road, opposite Okere Road junction said, the men who are on white and black uniform seized the opportunity of being government workers to molest and harass road users at will, noting that the worst affected are tricycle riders and commercial vehicles.
Our reporter, who visited the area, confirmed the allegation by the tricycle rider when he approached one of the officials who was having a heated argument with a private car owner. When our reporter approached him politely without provocation, his response was so disgusting as he even threatened to beat the reporter claiming that he is from the area and can do anything without being challenged.
His attitude led this reporter to further investigation of their activities and this took him to the zonal office of the agency but was surprised that no one was ready to take him to the person in charge but discovered that just at the front of the office along Warri Sapele Road, before the Warri South Secretariat, officials of the agency were seen with woods and plastic pipes in their hands hitting any vehicle that refused to stop.
Not satisfied, the reporter went to Udu Local Government where it was also alleged that the officials of the agency always stationed by the railway where they carry out their illegal impounding of vehicles, extortion of money from motorists and as well humiliation of citizens.
Just as alleged, our reporter drove down and found these men standing at the middle of the road flagging down oncoming vehicles. This reporter was also flagged down and several vehicle particulars were demanded but what let hell loose was when the official demanded for the original driver’s license, though a senior officer later intervened to settle the issue when he discovered that the argument might escalate.
While at the Ughelli axis, the official took as its beat the Oteri- Olomu Road where some sorts of extortion also take place daily.
However, in all these, the most horrible and aggressive among the group were those at the Bowen Avenue, by Odion Road.
Recently one of the officials on duty by the said Bowen Avenue furiously stabbed a driver of a mini truck over an argument, sensing an impending danger ahead; he took to his heels when he discovered that the said driver is an indigene of the area where they operate. According to an eye witness, the driver went back to reinforced but the culprit vanished into thin air before his arrival.
The question begging for answer is whether or not the law establishing the agency also permits the usage of weapon or could it be that the VIO are also performing both the duty of the Police, the military and the FRSC or what are the duties of VIO?