Magnus Eze, Enugu
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo has cried out over what it described as unusual number of military, paramilitary and police checkpoints in all routes leading into and within Igboland.
It said at least 60 checkpoints were between Lagos and Onitsha, a major route for Igbo traders. It explained that commuters from Lagos to Ore would confront 24 checkpoints, Ore to Benin, 23 while there are 13 checkpoints from Benin to Onitsha.
President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari and Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, noted that checkpoints in Enugu state alone were uncountable.
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo had last December, called on the Federal Government to order the dismantling of the multiple military roadblocks in the zone.
Nwodo said the interpretation of Ndigbo was that the checkpoints which were primarily concerned with extorting money from numerous Igbo passing through them were mere toll gates.
He condemned the nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government and heads of security agencies, adding that they gave the impression that the erection of the “toll gates” was deliberate, extortionist and intended to subdue the will of the people.
Part of the letter read: “In some instances, these security agents attend these “toll gates” with POS (Point of Sale) machines which they use to force travellers who have no cash but possess debit cards to forcibly transfer cash to their private accounts. Gladly, one police officer was reported to have been arrested by the Inspector General in respect of this practice recently.
“As our people prepare to return home for the Christmas, it has become necessary to bring to your attention to this embarrassing misdemeanour.
It is hoped that you will use your good offices to order officers responsible for this embarrassment to dismantle these “toll gates.”
“Modern security is all about information gathering, digital monitoring and preventive mechanisms, not about gestapo-like checkpoints. It is noteworthy that in all other routes leading out of Igbo land to other parts of Nigeria, checkpoints of the nature that characterize the routes into Igbo land are nowhere to be seen.
“Your Excellency, measures of this nature and the apparent indifference of the Federal Government continue to make our people feel discriminated against in our national polity.