BENIN CITY – In a gangster-like drama, traffic officers of the Edo State Ministry of Transport yesterday at the Oba Ovoranmwen Square (Ring road) hoodwinked the Deputy Editor, Nigerian Observer, Comrade Leo Atakpu and sped off with his personal car, in a robbery-like manner that shocked other road users.
The Deputy Editor who was dumbfounded by the action of the officials narrated his harrowing experience which occurred at the city centre as vehicles tried to meander out of the  gridlock associated with the Ring road.
The sheer brigandage style of the officials ended up at the headquarters of the Ministry where the sum of Ten Thousand, four hundred Naira (N10,400) was extorted from him unreceipted for. He narrates his experiences.
“I entered the ring from Akpakpava road end at about 10.00am heading to my office at Airport road and met a gridlock all the way from first East Circular Road Junction to Kingsquare, a huge traffic caused by the nefarious activities of some of the Ministry officials.
I tried to meander  my way at the Oba Market road end of ring road to head towards Airport road, when suddenly one of the boys, Kingsley Eribo opened the door of my car and jumped into the car and said “Oga, why you drive like that?” I replied “How? He said you no suppose to drive like that, next time don’t drive like that”. I replied’ okay oblivious of what he meant by “drive like that” and what he had up his sleeves.
“He then asked that I drop him off the way, I told him he was free to get off the car, since I was not the one that asked him in, in the first place.
“Instead of getting off the car as he said, he told me to wait to greet his colleagues and he started calling on them. Then, two others arrived. Still wearing my seat belt, Kingsley Eribo immediately collected the car key and ran away towards the Oba market.
“I then explained my ordeal to the two ministry officials, he invited who were still standing by my car. They condemned the actions of Kingsley Eribo and told me that these are the kind of boys spoiling their work and asked me to follow them to report to their supervisor right behind my vehicle. Then I stepped out and accompanied them, they tried to make some calls and later turned round to say their supervisor was not around. They followed me back to where I stopped the car, only to discover that the car had been driven away by Kingsley Eribo. I got this fact from those who were watching the drama. When I didn’t see the car I made enquiries and some sympathisers volunteered information that the car had been driven off. My can driven off in my absence, I wonder aloud.  I felt these were robbers masquerading as Ministry of Transport officials. Other Ministry of Transport officials with me started making enquires on their own. After several calls they got someone on phone who informed them that the car was with them and they then asked why they drove the car away. These were some of the information I got from their conversation.
“They then told me to go and collect the car form the Ministry of Transport. I asked how? I told them I had some valuables in the car that what was happening was an organized crime. They told me to go and meet one Reverend in the Ministry of Transport who will give me the car. I insisted that one of them must follow me. They then gave me one of their men to accompany me to the Ministry to collect the car. He insisted I must pay his transport fare for him to accompany me to the Ministry, I obliged him, but still wondering what the game was.
“We then set off together in a public transport to the ministry. On arrival, he took me to one Rev. Evans Ojo who had affixed a N30,000 charge on the car.
“The official told Evans  Ojo I had some valuables in the car which I have come to collect, I then asked him, and not the car? He yelled at me this time that he had finished with me and almost immediately disappeared.
“Then, I took the pains to explain my ordeal to Rev. Evans Ojo who then pulled a call to Kingsley Eribo, a young boy who had boasted to me at the ring road that his father was a Chief in Benin Kingdom and he can do anything to anybody and nothing would happen. Evans asked him what was the offence I committed and Eribo told him I committed obstruction”, a blatant lie, I replied. But in any case, I have been charged and fined N30,000 already even before Evans Ojo knew my offence”.
“Torn in between perfecting a criminal action in the face of oppressing an innocent citizen who had identified himself as Deputy Editor of the NIGERIAN OBSERVER, Evans Ojo took me to yet another official seated in a make-shift office in the ministry’s premises and told him to review my case.
“The officer then asked me to go get N15,000. I retorted and told him I do not have N15,000 to give to him. I went back to Evans Ojo who asked me if I have been formally charged? I told him I have not been charged as I do not know why I was here. He told me to accompany him back to the seated officer, he collected the charge sheet” and wrote N10,000 on it. He told me that nobody can remove the car from the ministry’s premises except the Ten Thousand naira was paid.
“I then went to the office of the Edo State Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Orobosa Omo Ojo. His aides told me he was out of office. I immediately made several phone calls to him but all efforts proved abortive.
“I eventually went back to the seated official who was in custody of my car key and several other keys. He told me to pay the ten thousand naira, I paid to him and demanded to have an Edo state government receipt for the payment. He said: “I do not have receipt to give to you, when Evans Ojo comes back, I will give him all the monies I am collecting and he will go and pay them into the bank”.
“But some of the officials who witnessed our conversation asked me what receipt do I need? I should forget about receipt. At that point, I knew I have been robbed of N10,000.
“Meanwhile, two of the tyres of my car were deflated by the ministry goons. They engaged the services of a vulcanizer who inflates all deflated tyres in their premises for the sum of N200 per tyre. Since I could not move the vehicle with deflated tyres, I was compelled to pay to their agent the sum of N400 to re-inflate the two tyres. Shortly after driving out of the ministry, my tyre at the rear went flat, I managed the car to Oando filling station opposite the secretariat building where I changed it with a spare before locating a valucanizer by the Observer who discovered that the Ministry of transport vulcanizer had removed my valves”.