EDITORIAL : Trader Murder : Time to cut DOPT to size

Teader killed by DOPT officials in  Calabar

From the day the Department of Public Transport, DOPT was established by the former governor of Cross River State, Sen. Liyel Imoke there have been constant agitation over the scope of their duties. It's difficult to clearly define what the agency was exactly created for as many see it as  duplication being that there are many other agencies that are doing the same job as DOPT.

While at inception, many argued that the sole purpose it was established was to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths, one can hardly explain how they staff of the agency are recruited or if it's reasonable at all to just create agency without defined role just to create jobs.

The agency, dominated by suspected criminals, gangters and touts has caused more harm than good. Even when the incumbent Governor, Prof. Ben Ayade in his magnanimity declared that the low income earners in the state be exempted from payment of taxes, DOPT is one of the agencies that has not only flouted such orders but has made extortion, harrassment and intimidation of motorists in Calabar metropolis for daily tickets a core duty.

People have had reasons to confront some of their officers to explain why they still sell tickets despite the Governor's Tax Exemption Policy for Low Income Earners and what they always say is that they have a target from government to generate revenue. Considering the kind of people that dominate the agency, it's hard believe them but the silence of government towards their illicit activities raise serious suspicion.

Besides, how are the staff of the agency even recruited and trained? has government ever come out to boldly explain to Cross Riverians the method of recruitment, minimum qualification to acquire to be recruited, how they are trained and above all their modus operandi? 

Staff of this organisation seems to be so independent to the point that their activities nay conducts are not questioned. Any driver who tries to question them will have he or herself to blame just like the trader yet government is doing nothing.

In all the many atrocities committed by them, the daylight massacre of a hustler - a trader; one of the people whom the state Governor has demonstrated that he's so dear about helping ttem climb the corporate ladder has not only heightened the need to cut the organisation to size but to ensure it is purged of touts.

But is the government ready? It doesn't seem so because from the reaction flying around as official statement from the government, it's very clear to the blind and audible to the deaf that the government has given tacit approval to DOPT's terrible, unprofessional and thuggery attitudes and actions. 

If this is not the case, how on earth would government come out to justify the killing of an innocent man by whatever means? If the lies told in the statement is anything to go by, when has DOPT be empowered to kill anybody that disobeys them? Why didn't they call security agencies to calm situation if traders were actually hostile to them? Why?

In 2016, there was an incident around the DOPT office (opposite the Governor's office) where an innocent motorist was manhandled by some staff of the agency for allegedly refusing to pay ticket. He was dragged to their office and was beaten to a near death situation. It took the intervention of some Journalists (me inclusive) who were going to the Correspondent Chapel in the Governor's office to rescue the young man.

The story was reported and government attention was drawn to the issue with the intention that something would be done to addressing the situation but unfortunately, nothing happened. In fact, there was no official reaction from government to the very terrible situation at all.

Over and over again, there have been cases of them manhandling petty traders, beating and extorting drivers, destroying people's goods and seizing some to in turn sell and all manners of things yet no action has been taken to address the issues.

For goodness sake, for how long shall we continue like this? what's the business of DOPT with traders in the street? Don't Cross River state have Ministry of environment again? What's really the job of these people? What are they doing that the VIO cannot do? What's the difference in their job description from the other tout-dominated agency, 100 Marian?

Enough is enough! The government can no longer keep mum when these gangsters continue to wage war against innocent citizens or come out to justify killing of any innocent Nigerian for whatever reason. It's time to call the touts to order.

Gov. Ayade whom everybody knows has soft spot for the downtrodden must as a matter of urgency call some of his media aides to order because they're embarassing him and painting a very bad picture about him. When Cross Riverians are expecting government to direct relevant security agencies to investigate the incident and cause the law to take it full course, some of his overzealous aides came out to justify why a trader was killed. 

The Governor, in fact, should order the withdrawal of such embarassing statement and cause the said aide who is spreading that statement on social media to tender an unreserved apology to the family of the victim as well as Cross Riverians.

Three weeks ago, DOPT destroyed something in Marian which they were forced to replace and now, they have killed  an innocent trader yet some people are not seeing the mayhem caused by them.

The deceased left his house in the morning to the streets to hustle. He didn't go stealing or begging but went out to struggle to earn a living and the best way a government agency could support him was to untimely take his life in the most cruelest manner yet some bundle of ignoramus are coming out to defend such wicked action.

Those who perpetrated this act should not only be dismissed but made to face the full wrath of the law. Government should not send the wrong signal that act like this is condoned. 

The activities of DOPT should be streamlined to clearly spell out their functions and scope of work.

A panel consisting of relevant security agencies and stakeholders should be constituted to properly investigate the matter and the culprits brought to book. If drastic measure is not taken to addressing this then Cross Riverians should be ready to defend themselves against the monsters who have not showed any sign of remorse for what has happened.
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