The Senate has appealed to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, to as a matter of urgency, reduce the number of checkpoints on federal highways across the country.
This, according to the Senate, has become necessary to reduce the gridlock on the roads. It also urged Adamu to direct officers of the police force to eschew all forms of extortion as alleged, while carrying out stop-and-search to establish validity of vehicle particulars.
The resolutions were reached following the consideration of a motion brought to the floor by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu north).
Utazi, coming under order 42 and 52 of the Senate standing rules, in his motion titled: “National Security versus Disproportionate Road Checkpoints on Federal highways in the country”, said the national security architecture of Nigeria has been stretched beyond its elastic limits.
He said acts of criminalities have put untold pressure on the country’s national security architecture, necessitating and compelling security agencies to confront security breaches headlong.
The lawmaker stated that while road blocks are necessary to curb criminal activities, its abuse for unintended purpose is reprehensible.
He stated that the Senate “will not renege in our responsibilities when the masses of this country complain that government police meant to protect them has been turned into an oppressive conduct by those concerned and which the IGP and people of his ilk may not be aware.”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo had earlier drew attention to what it described as unusual number of military, paramilitary and police checkpoints, particularly in routes leading into and within Igboland.
It said that at least 60 checkpoints were between Lagos and Onitsha; a major route for Igbo traders. It explained that travellers 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, on Wednesday, noted that checkpoints in Enugu State alone were uncountable.
Nwodo said the interpretation of Ndigbo was that these 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 these “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 characterise 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.
It is for this reason that I plead with you to use your good offices to bring to an end this discriminating, intimidating and extortionist practices of our security agents on all routes leading into and within Igbo land.
“We have continued on our part to appeal to our young men and women to restrain their anger and outrage in order to ensure that they do not resort to self-defence.
A report released by a rights group, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) alleged that an estimated N306 billion had been paid at gunpoint between August 2015 and October 2019 by citizens of eastern Nigeria to estimated 600 military and 6,300 police roadblocks in the South East and South-South regions.