By our reporter
Major roads and streets in Uyo, Akwa Ibom capital are bereft of metal drain covers, following their removal by suspected thieves, Straightnews has learned.
Investigation by Straightnews revealed that the criminals, working with other syndicates in the wee hours or thick of the night have been going about removing the covers for sale to scrap dealers.
At Four lanes and Nwaniba Road by Water Fountain, checks by our correspondent showed that most of the covers had been removed by unknown persons, exposing the drains to the danger of unsuspecting passers-by.
”It is true that the thieves have been going round removing the covers. Last year, we caught five boys removing them. We took them to the Paramount Ruler. They were lucky in that they were not treated to jungle justice,’’ Uyobong Sunday, an indigene of Eniong Offot narrated.
The Wellington Bassey Way end leading to the Government House, Uyo, is not spared the ignoble activities of the thieves.
”From the entrance of the road, the thieves have removed the covers. Worst affected are Wellington Bassey Way and Dominic Utuk Avenue, where the covers have been pilfered. From there to Traditional Rulers Council, Nigerian Correctional Centre, Area Police Office to the state Judiciary, the thieves had removed the metal drain covers,’’ Samuel Udoh living along the road confided in Straightnews.
From Slyvanus Okon Avenue to other streets in Osongama Housing Estate, the situation is worse. Most drains are open without covers.
Straightnews reporter took a trip to Udo Street on Tuesday, July 13 in the morning. At the junction between Udo Street by Asutan Street was a surging crowd.
Three ruffled boys with unkempt look sat on the ground at the veranda of a house overlooking Udo Street.
”What are your names?’’ Straightnews reporter enquired from the suspected covers’ marauders.
”My name is Abubakar Ibrahim.’’ Another responded; ‘’My name is Solomon Etim.’’ The third person answered ‘’My name is Shuaibu Yusuf.’’
The angry crowd showed Straightnews two long metal drain covers allegedly stolen by the suspects.
”How were they arrested?’’ Straightnews eagle-eyed reporter enquired.
A spectator who did not want to mention his name said: ”They allegedly stole the items in Osongama and brought here and we intercepted to know the source of ownership. On interrogation, they could authenticate the ownership of the items.
Later, they confessed to have carried the items in Osongama and brought here for sale to prospective buyer. We arrested them and detained them here. We have sent for policemen to pick them to the station for more enquiries.’’
Not long police van landed, parked the covers and cargoed the three suspects into their vehicle and sped off to Police Area Command along Wellington Bassey Way.
Even Oron, Abak, Ikot Ekpene Roads in Uyo and some streets with covers are vulnerable to the activities of the thieves.
Apart from the covers, they go about picking some valuable items in the name of scraps and zoom off to unknown destination.
Margaret Udoh lamented how they entered her father’s compound in Nsit Lane to cart away children bicycle that was still used. By the time we knew it, they had fled. Our effort to capture them was futile as they had disappeared into thin air.’
In a telephone with Straightnews on Sunday, July 18, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Odiko MacDon described the perpetrators of the act as ‘wicked people.’
MacDon, a Police Superintendent, wondered why people would go about removing metal drain covers along major roads and streets to stop rainwater leaving the road and also helping to pose danger to passers-by.
He described the act as criminal in nature and asked the public to either report to police or to apprehend perpetrators of the crime, warning that people caught in the act will be prosecuted.
The police spokesperson noted that it is an eye opener that such crime is being committed, and enjoined the public to safeguard the covers in the interest of other road users.