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Imo Disbands Environmental Officials After Residents’ Extortion Complaints

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has directed the immediate withdrawal of officials of the Imo State Environmental Transformation Commission (ENTRACO) from the state’s roads and streets.

His directive followed protests by the residents of Owerri, the state capital, accusing the officials of constant harassment and intimidation.

The residents claimed that ENTRACO which was set up to ensure the environmental cleanliness of the state has unconstitutionally extended its mandate by enforcing traffic rules in the state.

Residents alleged that the officials impound vehicles at will and extort money from the residents.

Mr Everest Ezihe, a journalist with Authority Newspaper, told our correspondent how his vehicle was impounded and driven to ENTRACO yard along Aba road.

According to him, he just parked his car to buy some things and some people, in a gangster mode, jumped down from a bus and seized the key of his car.

According to him, they then drove the car to their office, deflated its tyres, and asked him to pay N3,000.

He said: “Even when I disclosed my identity to them, they still insisted.

“The worry is why deflating the car tyres when it’s already in their custody.

“Even when you are eventually released after parting with money, you are still required to pay about N1, 000 to have the tyres reflated.”

However, the cries of the residents did not escape the ears of the state government as the governor banned ENTRACO officials from Imo roads.

While giving the directive, the governor also directed the police to arrest and prosecute any official of ENTRACO found in the streets or roads in Imo State demanding or harassing motorists.

Briefing newsmen on the decision, which was reached after the weekly State Executive Council meeting, the Commissioner for Information, Chief Declan Emelumba, noted that the government had received numerous complaints from members of the public on the nuisance which persons who claim to be officials of ENTRACO constitute to motorists on the roads and streets of Owerri and its environs.

The governor also directed that the ministry of works should immediately assume its responsibility of ensuring order on the roads and to incorporate members of the civil guard into his proposed transport management template to be called Imo State Traffic Management Agency pending the completion of the legal framework that will spell out the modus operandi of the agency and its personnel.

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