Ugo Aliogo and Oluchi Chibuzor
A coalition of notable Igbo think tanks, namely Otu Oka Iwu Ndigbo Lagos Foundation, Aka Ikenga and Nzuko Ununna, have condemned in strong terms the statement made by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, on the continuous roadblocks on the South West to South East and South-south regions of the country.
The coalition, which addressed the press in Lagos yesterday, said the numerous roadblocks were causing untold suffering, humiliation and hardship to travelers.
The Igbo think tanks claimed that there were 60 police roadblocks from Lagos to Onitsha. They gave a breakdown of the roadblocks to consist of 24 checkpoints between Lagos and Ore; 23 checkpoints between Ore and Benin and 13 checkpoints from Benin to Onitsha.
They described 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 inspector generals 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 centers for frisking innocent citizens of their hard earned money.”
Speaking during the briefing, the President of Otu Oka Iwu, Emmanuel Ikokwu, said the motive of the statement credited to the IGP was biased, adding that insecurity was synonymous in every part of the country.
Iwu pointed out that the Northern part of the country has been known as drug syndicates and kidnappers corridor but with no corresponding amount of roadblocks to control the menace.
He claimed that roadblocks mounted by the Nigerian Police and other security agencies like the Nigerian Army, Navy, Nigeria Custom Service (NCS), etc. have reduced the ease of doing business and inter-state commercial activities in the affected areas.
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 conducts are easily captured by video cameras without their knowledge.
“These multiple road blocks 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 check points.
“That these offensive and dangerous road blocks 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.”
They, however, called on 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.