Some members of an unregistered group have been extorting money from cab drivers to “settle” soldiers and the manager at the Obafemi Awolowo Train Station at Moniya in Ibadan, Oyo State, FIJ can report.
Cab drivers who work around the railway station but asked not to be named told FIJ the extortion involves an unregistered union that claims to be regulating and providing security for the drivers operating at the station. These persons parade themselves as members of a regulatiory union and collect levies without issuing tickets or receipts.
“I operate a cab at that place. They asked everybody to register. Initially, the registration fee was ₦5,000 but they later made it ₦10,000,” one said.
“This money, there is no single receipt. No ticket. Also, every week, they make the cab operators pay ₦1,000 and you have to pay without ticket, unlike at the airport.”
According to the driver, dropping a passenger at the Ibadan airport attracts a ticketed fee that was formerly ₦200 but is now ₦300, but the same cannot be said of the train station.
“The airport issues tickets and receipts. But at the train station, when we asked them what they were using the money for, they said they were trying to bribe Ms. Angelica Nkuka, the Railway District Manager. Then they said that they were paying for security, the soldiers at the station; ₦8,000! For what?”
A few drivers like him refused to pay these weekly and registration fees of ₦1,000 and ₦10,000 respectively without a receipt or ticket.
“Whatever money you are collecting as a fee, it should be receipted. There should be documentation. I refused to pay the money and they waged a series of war against me,” another driver said.
“They used soldiers; they brought the police to come and arrest me. They took me to Area A Command Aleshinloye. When I saw that the matter was getting out of hand, I took the matter to ICPC. At the ICPC, they called the PRO to order and warned him against these actions. So, for a while he left me.”
The illegal tax collectors often choose to employ violence and abuse to intimidate drivers who refuse to defer to them, he explained. Cars are sometimes rid of their tyres and some drivers are made to succumb after numerous threats of physical assault. Till date, every driver who picks up passengers at the railway station is compelled to pay these “security” levies or get attacked.
“I wrote a letter, to state my grievances and apologise for whatever I might have done. But still, as I am talking to you, if any car should pick passengers up at the station without paying them they will deflate car’s tyres,” the second driver added.
“They will bombard you, they will beat you. They have no right to deflate anyone’s tyres, neither do they have the right to beat a citizen. The association they claim to be members of is not registered anywhere. So they are just extorting people.”
There are different factions of informal tax collectors at the train station in Moniya but none is registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The Micra faction resorted to using a soldier to coerce our source to pay a weekly ₦500 levy after he was told to either register with Micra or stop operating as a cab driver at the railway station.
“Then there are the MICRA people. Recently, I was forced to join the MICRA people because soldier was involved,” he said. “They called a meeting three times. The last time, I was actually threatened that if I did not attend, I should take my car away.”
FIJ reached out to the National Railway Corporation to enquire about the collection of levies at train stations but was yet to respond to an email as of press time. The phone number provided on the NRC website was also inoperable.
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