Angry youths on Monday barricaded the Umuikaa Junction on the Abia end of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, protesting the alleged brutality and extortion of from men of the Nigerian Navy in the area.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports learnt that trouble started after Navy operatives allegedly manhandled a vulcanizer in the area, without any provocation.
According to an eyewitness account, the operatives at the checkpoint allegedly battered the vulcanizer working in the area.
The eyewitness said: “We don’t even know whether the man is still alive but he has been rushed to a nearby hospital.”
The eyewitness said that the operatives fled their duty post because they feared that the victim might have died from the injuries inflicted on him.
The eyewitness said that the youths set bonfires on the expressway, hampering vehicular movement, while also accusing the Navy operatives of extorting money from commercial bus and motorcycle (Okada) operators as well as sexually abusing their girls and wives.
The protesters also were wielded big sticks and bottles, chanting anti-Navy songs.
NAN reports that it took the intervention of Chikwendu Kalu, the Speaker, Abia House of Assembly, who was travelling at the time of the protest, to restore normalcy in the area.
When the protesters saw the speaker’s motorcade, they vowed not to leave the road, insisting that he must come down and address them.
Kalu, who hails from the area, later disembarked from his car and urged them to sheath their swords.
He decried the incident and pledged to liaise with the Navy authorities at Owerriinta in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area on the possibility of dismantling the checkpoint.
Meanwhile, efforts made to reach the Navy authorities for their reaction on the incident were unsuccessful.