*350 checkpoints in Anambra, each gets N20,000 daily
By Innocent Anaba
International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Intersociety, yesterday, blamed the high rate of crime in the South-East, particularly kidnappings and robberies, on the failure of the Police in the zone to diligently carry out their duties at check points.
The group said the Police, instead, concentrate on extorting money from motorists on daily basis.
The Anambra-based civil society group is worried that despite the South-East having the highest number of policemen and check points, compared to any other part of the country, the crimes of kidnapping and robbery have continued to thrive.
Mr. Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman of the group, in a statement in Onitsha, following the groupâ€™s investigations, said â€œit is very baffling that despite the fact that South-East zone is the most heavily policed and crowded (with motley of conventional and unconventional security personnel), yet the spate of violent crime has reached a crescendo.
â€œOur Inspector-General of Police and his team should have answers to these monumental social vices. So long as some highly placed officersÂ in the Nigeria Police High Command, continue to smile to the bank everyday, thanks to roadblock extortions, violent crime will continue unabated. The roadblock extortions have so disorganised the affected police persons to the extent that their guns are hardly serviced, let alone traditional early morning body exercises being carried out to instil physical fitness.
â€œThese violent crimes are not insurmountable. The main reason they thrive seemingly uncontrollably is due to rabid corruption in the Nigeria Police Force, especially as it concerns crime of extortion. Once the collection of bribes at all the police checkpoints is practicably and practically abolished, the police will sit up and these crime will be reduced to manageable proportions.
â€œCommercialisation of criminal investigations must also be abolished by the Force High Command.
Investigations carry price tags
â€œIt has been revealed that while it takes the investigating unit in Anambra State the sum of N150,000Â to investigate a criminal complaint, whether felony, misdemeanor or simple offence, their counterparts at the Zone 9 Command, comprising the five Eastern states of Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo, charge about N250,000 for similar investigation.
â€œIn Anambra State alone, there are over 350 police checkpoints, manned by about 1,800 police persons, mostly drawn from the Mobile Police Division. Each checkpoint is manned by about five police persons and an average of N20,000 is collected by same on daily basis from commercial motorists and motor-cyclists.
â€œOur political leaders must address the ravaging economic under-development and imbalance, including unemployment and official corruption.
â€œThere should be quarterly transfer of regular police persons in the South-East zone, particularly in Anambra and Abia states.
â€œBecause of the peculiar nature of those charged with investigation duties, including special squads like anti-robbery/kidnap units, there should be bi-annual mass transfer of those officers and persons. In the area of Mobile Police, there should be monthly mass transfer of officers and persons of the Division.
â€œIt is the civic duty of the leaders of commercial motorists and motor-cyclists in the South-East, particularly in Onitsha, Nnewi, and Awka zones of Anambra State to issue firm directives to their members to update their driverâ€™s or riderâ€™s licenses and other relevant vehicle, cycle/tricycle papers and stop offering bribes to police persons mounting legal or illegal checkpoints.”