By Jovitta Iorshase
About 53 persons operating illegal checkpoints across Benue State have been arrested and are facing prosecution at various courts in Makurdi, due to the sustained fight against illegal revenue operations by the Benue State Internal Revenue Service (BIRS).
Records made available to The Voice, from the Enforcement and Legal units of the service shows that; “the 53 persons had been arraigned in 24 cases at various courts in the state and are facing prosecution for robbery, criminal conspiracy, extortion among other charges.”
A statement by the Media Assistant to the Executive Chairman, BIRS, Mrs Mimi Adzape -Orubibi, Mr Jacob Suswam, maintained that, on assumption of duty six months ago, his principal solicited the support of all security agencies in the state, traditional rulers, traders union, and other stakeholders through series of meetings and engagements to help curb the menace of illegal checkpoints in the state which had yielded positive results.
“The chairman, who first applied the carrot and stick approach, went hard on those who refused retracing their steps from the criminal act. And the dual approach has brought some sanity on the roads as the illegal checkpoints have continue to lessen, despite the adamant nature of some operators.
“The revenue boss, also lamented that the negative impact of the menace has caused great economical loss to the state, and it is worrisome as some traders shun the state because of the harassment and extortion they suffer in the hands of these criminals who pose as revenue agents on the roads,” he stated.
The statement further explained, “Mrs Mimi Azape-Orubibi, assures that under her watch the number of cases recorded so far would be reduced as clampdown on such criminals shall be sustained until the menace is totally eradicated, and again called on parents and traditional leaders to warn their wards to desist from this act as anyone arrested shall be treated as armed robbers in accordance with the law.”
Records from BIRS listed those arrested to include: Teryange Amough, Isaa Anja, Tindi Titus, Ukraine Henry, Tule Amos, Terungwa Tyowua, Oryina Iorwase, Terhemba Hilekaan, Tyokaa Msughter, Agaba Ternenge, Teryila Kukir, Peter Zongo, Sekegh Vaakwagh, Achiatyo Iorgyer, Fanen Chaagba, Kpamor Dagena, Terzulum Aondoana, Terkende Iortim, Anoryima Orduega, Daniel Aondoungwa and Denen Tari, all arraigned at Chief Magistrate Court 1.
While Pascal Agayo, Tyoapine Akulaga and Mnongu Agbidye have been arraigned at the Chief Magistrate Court 6.
Sughnen Anzuu, Nathaniel Yabi, Ternenge Azua, Terwase Yuhe, Venda Liam and John Okpopi have been arraigned at Chief Magistrate Court 4, while Aondofa Zangi arraigned at Chief Magistrate Court 10, Teryima Aondoakaa and Vershima Ugbudu arraigned at Chief Magistrate Court 7.
Boniface Kumator was arraigned at Chief Magistrate Court 8, while Agir Zwuaka and Tyowase Hembatsav were arraigned at Chief Magistrate Court 10A.
In another development, a truck of oranges which was arrested and taken to the BIRS headquarters for possession of fake receipts has been released after due payment.
Mr Suswam, who made this known, however, said it was still at the office as at the time of filing this report because of faulty tires.