GUO, luxury bus owners debunk ‘recurring’ hijack, kidnapping news
It was recently claimed that a “fully loaded” Abuja-bound luxury bus belonging to GUO Transport Co. Ltd was “intercepted” at Edo by bandits who kidnapped over a hundred passengers on board, hours after departing Owerri. However, operators are debunking this claim, which the same is becoming a worrying trend.
In a statement shared with BusinessDay, the inter-state luxury bus owners and operators called on the Police and other security agencies in the country to investigate the sources of what they described as “frequent hoax online news reports about the hijack of their vehicles and kidnap of passengers by armed bandits.” The transporters were reacting following the GUO news, which they say was the latest in a series of recent fake news.
Maduabuchukwu Okeke, managing director of GUO, said in the statement that none of his company’s buses got hijacked, nor passengers abducted. He also noted that false stories of luxury bus hijacks and the kidnap of passengers have been recycled several times since banditry assumed a worrisome trend in the country.
He urged the Department of State Services (DSS), the Police and other law enforcement agencies, to track down the perpetrators who are bent on scaring away long-distance road users, putting luxury bus business in jeopardy and causing disaffection among sections of the society.
“The mischief-makers claimed that 123 passengers were abducted. But, what kind of luxury bus can accommodate 123 passengers even with the so-called “attachment” seats which are totally prohibited in GUO as a matter of policy,” said Okeke. “Or, are we talking about pieces of wood here, and not human beings anymore? You do not need to think deep to know that the story is false.”
According to him, if there was any such incident involving GUO buses, the management would have officially issued a statement in addition to confirmation by the Police.
Nonso Ubajaka, national president, Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON), according to the statement, also decried the frequent fabrication of falsehood about his members’ vehicles on the internet.
“The question is: What is the motive behind the frequent fake news about luxury buses being “intercepted” and occupants abducted by the Fulani? All the transport owners are worried because there seems to be a secret plan to cause fear and disaffection which gives us cause for concern,” he said. According to Ubajaka, he checked with the management of GUO and confirmed that none of their buses was attacked by bandits.
The ALBON President echoed the appeal to the law enforcement agencies to swing into action, and apprehend the mischief-makers before they cause more damage through the internet.
Other luxury bus transporters and members of both ALBON and the bigger amalgam of transport bodies – Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA), urged online news readers to always disregard such fake news, insisting that sometimes, they sound too unbelievable to be true.