Upper Iweka in Onitsha, Anambra State, wears the face of an unofficial crime headquarters
| By AnayoEzugwu | Apr. 29, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
UPPER Iweka, the heart of Onitsha is the unofficial crime headquarters of Anambra State. It possesses different faces, the good, the bad and the ugly. Upper Iweka is the connection point for many travellers, it serves as the point of arrival and departure for various travellers within the city or those in transit. Upper Iweka is the point where major expressways intersect. They include the Onitsha-Enugu expressway, Asaba Bridge head expressway as well as Onitsha-Owerri expressway. For this reason, many passengers cannot do without Upper Iweka, although it is often dreaded like a plague due to the chilly stories and happenings within the area.
When the popular musician, Ibealoke Chukwukeziri, fondly called Apama Boy released an album in 2001 titled: Ihena-eme na Upper Iweka, meaning strange things happen at Upper Iweka, it was a hit. The artiste demonstrated in the song the activities of illegal tax collectors, who extort money from individuals in the name of tax rates until they met their perfect match in the person of Perricomo Okoye, whom they carried shoulder high to their office to perfect their extortionist tendencies but were surprised that they couldn’t bring him down despite all efforts. Perrycomo, using his own African magical powers, taunted them all through, commanded and collected outrageous items from them before he set them free.
Today, the tax collectors may have fizzled out of Upper Iweka but the activities in the area are still the same. A staff of this magazine, who travelled from Lagos to the east on April 7, narrated how he lost his money to armed robbers at Upper Iweka. According to him, he stopped at the Lagos pack in Upper Iweka and wanted to board a bus going to Awka, but lost N5, 000 to the hoodlums. “I entered God is Good Motors from Lagos to Onitsha and when I arrived at Upper Iweka, I discovered that there was no bus going to my destination. But 30 minutes later, one bus came shouting Awka and everybody was rushing to it. After I secured a seat, I noticed that the money in my back pocket was no longer there and nothing happened to the pocket or my trouser,” he said.
Ndidi Anyiam, a trader, said early this year, she set out to go to the bridge head market but on crossing the other side of the road at the Upper Iweka to board a bus plying the Uga bridge head route, she was approached by a nice-looking young man who asked her the direction to locate Nwaziki Street in Awada. Coincidentally, it was on the same street she resides. But the attempt to assist this apparently harmless young man was her greatest undoing. According to Anyiam, all she could remember later was that she found herself in Asaba, the Delta State capital. She could not explain how she was hypnotised to go back to borrow N200, 000 from friends in Onitsha market and take to fraudsters in Asaba.
“I was going to the market that faithful day when the young man approached me and asked of one street in Awada. I tried to help him but all I could remember was that I found myself in Asaba. I equally went to my brother’s shop and collected N80,000 and went ahead to borrow N120,000 from different sources inside the market. I even lied to them that it was my brother who sent me to them. I subsequently went back to Asaba to hand over the money to the fraudsters. It was after I came back to look for more money that my brother, who had gone to Abuja park to send goods to a customer, accosted me and demanded to know where I kept the money inside the drawer. I never gave a satisfactory answer and my brother slapped me. It was after the slapped that the scale fell off my eyes and I started crying. We could not trace those boys till date,” she said.
Uche Onuze, a business woman based in Oji River in Enugu State, said she went to the Relief Market in Onitsha, to buy goods. On approaching the foot of the flyover at Upper Iweka, there was a heavy traffic. So, the driver joined the queue and suddenly two young men appeared by the window and shouted: “give us that bag.” Out of fear arising from different tales, passengers in the bus handed over their bags to them. She also gave them her bag containing the sum of N210,000 to the boys even before the driver could tell them not to do so. According to him, the two men were a regular nuisance who harass people without guns within the area.