Niger youths give ultimatum to articulated vehicle drivers

A coalition of Youth Associations in Niger State has issued a 48-hour ultimatum to articulated vehicle drivers who are currently protesting resulting in their blocking of Minna-Bida and Lambatta–Bida roads.

This is just as the state government has declared the action of the trailer/tanker drivers as illegal.

The youths under the umbrella of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) Niger State chapter warned the protesters that they could be forced to take “the laws into our hands at the expiration of the ultimatum” if the drivers did not withdraw their vehicles from the highway.

The Chairman of the Coalition, Mr Bello Barau Yussuf, said: “The implications of this heinous act by these drivers who have constituted themselves not only as a nuisance but as a government within a government, blocking and stampeding major highways at the slightest provocation, is that they are causing untold hardship and holding travellers to ransom, hence crippling and halting economic activities.”

He also asked NARTO and members of the Association of Tanker Drivers to apologise to Nigerlites and other road users with immediate effect before advising them to “be civil in addressing grievances rather than infringing on other citizens’ rights in the future.”

Niger State Governor, Mr Abubakar Sani Bello, in his first reaction to the blockade, which entered its fourth day yesterday, described the action as “illegal and unconstitutional” adding that “though the Tanker Drivers have the right to peaceful protests as a group, their action has greatly infringed on the rights of other commuters which he said is very unfortunate”.

The governor in a statement made available to newsmen in Minna that was signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Ms. Mary Noel Berje, also described the action of the trailer/ tanker drivers “as unlawful” adding that “such action will not intimidate the state government into allowing them to use the Minna-Bida Road, which is a state-owned road.”

Bello asked the drivers of articulated vehicles to desist from taking the laws into their hands but to channel their grievances to the appropriate authorities stressing that “embracing amicable resolution to the issue is more civil than subjecting or holding other citizens to ransom.”

The governor asked for “calm amidst untold hardship caused to innocent and law-abiding citizens” before assuring that the government is liaising with the Federal Controller of Works in the state to urgently repair the failed portions of the Lambatta-Bida Road.

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