More than 300 outposts of the suffocating army / police in the southeast – investigation
It can be fair to say that the southeastern region is under siege by soldiers and police, who have set up checkpoints almost every two kilometers on all major roads in the area.
The same is true – from Aba to Umuakhia and Owerri, from Enugu to Abakaliki, from Avka to Onitsha and Nnevi. From Aba to Enugu, at a distance of 150 kilometers, there are no less than 12 army checkpoints and more than 16 permanent police checkpoints, as well as several police stopping and search teams.
The situation caused concern among motorists and other road users in the area, some of whom described it as embarrassment and aggression from people in the area.
As a reminder, during the last security meeting in the southeast with the Inspector General of Police Adamu Mohammed, President General Ohanaese Ndigbo, Chief Nniya Nwodo raised the alarm about the presence of several police checkpoints in the area, followed by extortion of motorists, harassment and intimidation even passers-by.
In Abia, Aba Umuahiya, there are several military and police checkpoints on both the highway and the old road; The roads Umuahia-Ouzuakoli-Bendé Ohafia and Umuahia-Owerri did not stay away. Motorists passing through the Abia State section of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Highway and the old Aba Umuahiya Highway have complained of extortion, harassment and intimidation by soldiers and police at these checkpoints.
Vanguard noted that soldiers in Abia recruit young people to serve, stop motorists, and collect money for them at various checkpoints. They extort money depending on the size of the car. Large vehicles such as trucks, dump trucks transporting sand or wood chips give up to 1000 N. E., While those who transport containers have to pay much more. Buses extort between N200 and N500, and the amount can be higher if the bus is overloaded with goods.
This is similar to the situation at the checkpoints set up by the police, but they brazenly do it as they negotiate and give the rest to the motorists. One notorious police station implicated in this illegal act is the Ndiiegoro Police Station in Aba, once dominated by “civilian police officers” who arrested and detained residents who bought their freedom at a very high price.
From the port of Imo border between the rivers and Abia states to the border between Abia and Enugu states, it is always a bazaar of extortion by soldiers and police at the numerous checkpoints along this route.
It is also noted that a similar situation is observed on the old Aba-Umuahiya highway. From the Acho Nwakanma junction to the Obikabiya junction, at a distance of 5 kilometers, there are more than 7 police checkpoints chasing motorists for the “Rogers”. The focus is always on the buses from Aqua Ibom / Cross River, which have come to buy goods in various markets in the city.
Aba police have also turned the Aba water bridge into a roadblock where they extort money from motorists, especially tricycle drivers.
Despite the bold written warnings at these army checkpoints against giving or taking bribes, soldiers never obey the warning, going into their predatory frenzy. Most to blame are the Asa High School checkpoints, West Ukwa; Isiala Ngwa junction; and another at Itungwe on the old Aba-Umuahiya highway. Others include those at the Obikabiya junction in the Obingwa metropolitan area and another on the Umuahia-Ohafia highway. The Federal Road Safety Service is also not excluded from this threat, since now it openly collects bribes from motorists.
Motorist Ikechukwu Chijioke told Vanguard how he was once attacked by a soldier for refusing to part with the N500 at a former checkpoint in Ndiolumba, in the southern part of the Isiala Ngwa metropolitan area.
On August 7, 2019, a soldier, Corporal Ajayi Johnson, shot and killed an Okada rider, Chimaobi Nwaogu, for refusing to part with the N100 at a military checkpoint in Oganza, in the Obingwa metropolitan area. While crossing a checkpoint, Corporal Johnson pursued and shot the deceased in his community, Umuokereke Ngwa, about 6 kilometers from the checkpoint.
This illegal act of soldiers and police is causing concern to the people in the area. The president of the Civil Liberties Organization, a division of the ABA, Professor Charles Chinekesi complained that the state security authorities have abandoned their duties and focused on extorting money from people.
In the Anambra state, the story is the same. Motorists on state roads know what to expect from security personnel who take different routes every time they leave their homes – namely, they have to part with cash to get to their destination.
Between Avka and Onitsha via the expressway, which is about 40 kilometers away, there are checkpoints at Amans (police), Aroma junction (police), Umuopku (traffic safety), Umuopku (police), Enugwu Agidi (police) … , Dunukofia (Police), Aukuzu (Police), Avkuzu (Road Safety), Nkvele Ezunaka (Police), Borromeo Roundabout (Police) and Bridge (Police / Traffic Safety / Army).
Along the old Enugu-Onitsha road there are checkpoints at Amans (army), mobile police (police) junction, Zika Avenue (traffic safety), Enugwu Ukwu (police), and Ugwu Nwasike (police).
Onitsha-Owerri road axis also has checkpoints at Oba, Ozubulu, Okija, Ihiala, Uli and Amorka, all of which are points of extortion from motorists. Some commercial vehicle drivers who spoke about the matter claimed that there are roadblocks that collect N100, while others collect N200 and above. For road safety reasons, the amount of the penalty depends on the number of fixed charges.
Mr Johnson Onuigbo, who drives the Onitsha-Avka road, said drivers already know the amount to pay for each ride, adding that they save money and hand it over as they approach any checkpoint. …
“Police checkpoints are even better than road safety checkpoints because we collect money and deliver it. Problems only arise if the driver refuses to leave money, in which case you are wasting your time and passengers’ time.
“In case of road safety, you have to park your car and then go and hand over the money. The amount ranges from 500 to 2,000, depending on what you are carrying, ”Onuigbo said.
Former CEO of the Onitsha Markets Amalgamated Traders Association, OMATA chief Ozoh Anaekwe also expressed concern about the many checkpoints in the southeast, saying they are damaging the area’s economy.
“The actions of security personnel, in particular the police, army and navy, at the checkpoints have become a source of embarrassment for Nigeria as foreigners enter and pass through these checkpoints.
“I am really confused by the level of indiscipline that is now prevalent in the army regarding extortion in the streets and at checkpoints, regardless of who is watching them. Nigerian army soldiers turned shameless before extortion at checkpoints. We ask the army chief of staff if he is embarrassed by the brutal extortion by his soldiers in the southeast; he has to answer that question because military checkpoints are set up on roads under democratic rule
In Enugu, many checkpoints have been established by soldiers and police along the Enugu-Abakaliki, Enugu-Aba and Enugu-Awka Highways, as well as along the Nsukka Road and between the borders of Nsukka and Benue States.
There are also checkpoints set up by the Air Force at the Penoks bus stop and in Emen, near Akanu Ibiam International Airport.
In the Enugu metropolis, police checkpoints cause long lines along the Abakaliki Expressway during peak periods when residents go to or from work or business. It’s a shame that money is being extorted at these checkpoints.
The state’s new style of extortion by police is said to target market routes, where they set up multiple checkpoints and charge tolls for commercial vehicles carrying goods, especially food, to and from village markets.
On a market day in Ori, Vanguard staff noted that there were seven police checkpoints between Ibagwa-Nike and Ori Ugwuogo, ten kilometers away. Between the same Ugwuogo and Opi junction in the Nsukka local government area, there are eight other checkpoints, including a military checkpoint that collects all tolls from motorists heading to the Ugwuogo market. Also in the same Ugwugo market, there are four other checkpoints that serve passengers from Nkwo Neke or other rural markets in the Ishi-Uzo local government area.
This abhorrent police action prompted a group of justice professionals in Enugu State to petition Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adam demanding justice for the alleged attack on his colleague, Mr. Nwannek Aghwu, who, according to lawyers, was stunned by a group of police officers at a checkpoint in Trans-Ekulu-Enugu for no good reason.
The Imo State case is interesting. People call daily extortion “tolls,” which has become the new norm in the state. While military checkpoints are set up at specific locations on all major federal highways in the state, most police checkpoints are mobile, not for known operational reasons, but for obvious financial gain.
Since then, the army checkpoints have turned into a money trap. The procedure for staff assigned to checkpoints is the same. They practically do not control vehicles and do not collect money themselves. Strong young people work for all of them. It was noted that while the soldiers were sitting comfortably in their tents, boys with sticks were in full control of the checkpoints. It was also noted that since then, it has become common for all articulated vehicles to stop and “pay tribute” to soldiers before continuing on their way.
In Ebony State, extortion by various security personnel has become too strong for drivers on the road, forcing them to recently block the road at the Enugu-Ebony border on the Enugu-Abakiliki highway to protest the extortion and harassment by the police.
According to one of the drivers, who called himself simply Chukwuma, the police not only extorted money from them, but also brutally treated any driver who refused to meet their monetary demands.
Source: – Vanguard