60 Roadblocks From Lagos To Onitsha: Any Benefits, Or Is It Just ‘A Siege On The South East’ As Igbo Groups Allege ?

The Oasis Reporters

December 23, 2019

Bags of Rice in the booth, checkpoint ahead.

The ever present scourge of the multiplicity of security roadblocks while travelling to the South East from the West has again come up for scrutiny as the Christmas and New Year festivities comes again.

The IGP in an Abuja meeting three days ago had said that the police would continue to have more presence in the South East until the security situation there improves.

He responds thus to reporters:

“It is not roadblock per se, but it is a stop and search. The more we have the visibility of our police on the road, the more it deters crime.

“The stop and search areas you see, especially in the southern part of the country, the South East, in particular, is because of our assessment of the security situation in the country.

“Where we see more security challenges, we deploy more operatives so that the security challenges there will be mitigated.

“What we have asked the AIGs and DIGs to be doing is to make sure that those officers on stop and search duty do the right thing. They don’t molest people, they don’t collect money on the road and they don’t do things that are not required.

“But they will continue to be on the road to give confidence to members of the public so that the criminals will not take over the highways because if you don’t see police officers on the roads, the tendency is that the criminals would take over the road and they do what they know best and we will not allow that.”

Well a collation of Igbo Socio-Economic groups and think tanks consisting of Otu Oka Iwu Ndigbo Lagos Foundation, Aka Ikenga and Nzuko Umunna, finds this unacceptable and is crying foul.

It says 60 police roadblocks from Lagos to Onitsha is not good policing but outright extortion by the very people supposed to protect the citizenry. They gave a breakdown of the roadblocks which consist of 24 checkpoints between Lagos and Ore; 23 checkpoints between Ore and Benin and 13 checkpoints from Benin to Onitsha.

The distance from Lagos to Onitsha is 451.6km so this translates into a mind-boggling checkpoint every 7.53km. No Nuclear facility in the world is as well guarded or monitored as this one road.

The coalition, which addressed the press in Lagos yesterday, said the numerous roadblocks were causing untold suffering, humiliation and hardship to travellers.

It went on to describe the multiplicity of roadblocks as insensitive, provocative and unacceptable, especially in light of unconstitutional breeches occasioned by the roadblocks stretching from Sagamu through Benin to Onitsha.

According to the Igbo think tanks, “it is noteworthy that several inspectors General of police before him, from Suleiman Abba to Mohammed Abubakar, had issued similar directives to dismantle roadblocks.

” That is why we found the position of Mr Adamu untenable and unacceptable. The checkpoints escalate confrontation which leads to fatal shootings by security agencies. The roadblocks have amounted to extortion centres for frisking innocent citizens of their hard-earned money.”

The President of Otu Oka Iwu, Emmanuel Ikokwu went even further to say that the IGP was biased, adding that insecurity was synonymous in every part of the country.

Ikokwu pointed out that the Northern part of the country has been known as kidnappers corridor but with no corresponding amount of roadblocks to control the menace.

According to him; “the constitutional role of these agencies to combat crime is not in question. However, it is highly worrisome that serious abuses and negation and curtailment of human rights and civil liberties pervade the operations of these agencies at these roadblocks and checkpoints.

“The culprits ought to know that in the world of digital technology, most of these disgraceful conduct is easily captured by video cameras without their knowledge.

“These multiple roadblocks and the siege on the South East and South-South zones of the country be dismantled and lifted forthwith.

“We request President Mohammed Buhari to direct the Inspector General of Police and heads of other security agencies to comply with the Senate resolution calling for scaling down of these checkpoints.

“That these offensive and dangerous roadblocks be replaced forthwith with high visibility motorised patrols and effective surveillance and communication on these highways; That security personnel who are assigned to duties in such motorised patrols must wear bold name tags and service numbers to foster accountability.”

The collation, in conclusion, implored that all citizens travelling on these routes to remain law-abiding, polite to law enforcement agencies, but vigilant to observe and report incidents at these roadblocks to any of its association’s through channels of the town unions and other cultural organisations.

The Oasis Reporters has been on the aforementioned roads recently and indeed conclude that the road blocks are many. But it has been noticed that a few have been dismantled. But indeed, they have remained spots for money collection by the security officials.

The salutary effects of the road blocks is that the much feared scourge of the herdsmen militia kidnapping squads seem to have disappeared on the road for a multiplicity of checkpoints discourages them. That is the positive aspect of the ubiquitous security checkpoints.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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