By Ed Malik, A | December 22, 2022
ed@ddnewsonline.com

Leading civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Thursday, carpeted the Federal Government over its planned tolling of the almost completed 1.6 kilometers long Second Niger Bridge which links Anambra and Delta states.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said the project was funded with taxpayers’ fund returned in the form of loots recovered from former Nigerian military leader General Sani Abacha and former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

The group said tolling the bridge, which unarguably, appears to be the only road with toll gate in the whole of Nigeria, is an injustice not only to Southern Nigeria but to the entire country, noting the bridge is for use for by all Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from and hence, there should not be a veiled ethnic profiling to commute on it.

HURIWA argued that the returned $332.4 million Abacha loot from the United States and the £4.2m Ibori loot paid to the Federal Government of Nigeria by the United Kingdom are the stolen commonwealth of all Nigerians which should be used on essential infrastructure for the betterment of the entire country.

Therefore, it is unacceptable that the Second Niger Bridge will be tolled upon its completion after decade-long controversies surrounding the project.

It was the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Channels Television on Wednesday, who said that the temporarily opened bridge will be tolled with the same model as the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, which has become a sore poster for government’s oppressive policies against Nigerians.

The Second Niger Bridge was opened on test-run to traffic on December 15, 2022 and will remain opened till January 15, 202, to ease the experience of travelers during Yuletide break before the final delivery date slated for May 2023.

HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The bombshell released by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) that the Second Niger Bridge will be tolled is totally unacceptable and a betrayal by the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

“It is on record that the Buhari regime pledged to use the $332.4 million recovered Abacha loot and the £4.2m returned Ibori loot to fund the construction of the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos–Ibadan and Abuja–Kano Expressways to benefit the citizens of each of these important regions.

“The UK and the US especially ensured that the Nigerian Government commit its agreement to use the specified recovered loots for infrastructural development as administered by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.

“HURIWA, therefore, finds it preposterous and a double jeopardy for Nigerians, that the Buhari regime will turn around to plan the tolling of the Second Niger Bridge. This is totally unacceptable. Nigerians should for once enjoy their recovered stolen taxes and resources aptly tagged the “Abacha and Ibori Loots”. HURIWA urges all Nigerians to resist the planned tolling of the Second Niger Bridge which is the only federally built bridge that would be tolled.”

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