The apex Igbo socio cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari and Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, protesting the unusually high number of checkpoints along Lagos – Onitsha Expressway.
The group also expressed displeasure at the number of check points across Igboland.
The group’s dissatisfaction with the ubiquitous check points was contained in an open letter signed by President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, John Nnia Nwodo.
Referring to the checkpoints as “toll gates,” Nwodo said the body language of the government and the security agencies suggested that “the erection of these “toll gates” is deliberate, extortionist and intended to subdue the will of the people.”
He therefore called for them to be dismantled.
The letter read:
“Evidence available to us indicates an unusual number of military, paramilitary and police checkpoints in all routes leading into and within Igbo land.
“To be precise, our report presents the following gory picture: there are 60 (sixty) checkpoints between Lagos and Onitsha (a major route for Igbo traders) thus:
“Lagos to Ore = 24 checkpoints
“Ore to Benin = 23 checkpoints
“Benin to Onitsha =13 checkpoints. Just in Enugu State alone, the checkpoints are uncountable.
“The interpretation of Igbos is that these checkpoints which in the main concern themselves with extorting money from numerous Igbos passing through them are mere toll gates.
“The nonchalant attitude of the Federal Government and heads of security agencies give the impression that the erection of these “toll gates” is deliberate, extortionist and intended to subdue the will of the people.
“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 this embarrassing misdemeanor.
“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.
“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.
“While I anticipate your prompt and compassionate reactions to this letter, accept, Your Excellency, my very warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.