By Ikenna Asomba
Irked by what it described as the harassment and extortion of travellers to the South-East and South-South States allegedly by security agencies, pro-democracy group, Wailing Wailers have called on President Muhammadu Buhari; Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara to call the heads of the agencies to order.
In a statement in Abuja, on Friday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Sani Ringim, the Wailing Wailers said: “We were alarmed by the unlawful and reprobative actions of the Nigeria Army, the Police, the Customs and other security agencies on the eastern routes of Nigeria. It is very detestable and condemnable that travellers are made to suffer a harrowing hardship, harassments, intimidation and are being extorted in the hands of the security forces who have mounted over a 100 road blocks on the roads to eastern parts of Nigeria.
“Travellers going to celebrate the Christmas and the New year in the eastern parts of Nigeria are whiling and wailing in rigorous pains inflicted on them by the dehumanizing treatments meted out on them by the security agencies and are crying out, laying their complaints through various mediums that the Army, the Police and the Customs officers have mounted unreasonable, uncanny and very disturbing road blocks for no reason on their routes and now subjecting them through humiliation, harassment, extortion and intimidation on their way to their home town to spend time with their loved ones during this Christmas season.
“We recall that President Buhari through his Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai has deployed fierced-looking Soldiers to the Eastern Nigerian states in what he termed “Operation Python Dance”. We wonder the motives and reasons for such military occupation of the peaceful South East geopolitical Zone of Nigeria, when there is no civil unrest nor threat to our national unity and security from the region except the President’s incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu, the Pro-Biafran Leader.
“The war torn North East in Borno, Adamawa, Sambisa where our Chibok girls are being held captive by Boko Haram terrorists does not have such heavy security road blocks, check points and military warfare as that of the Eastern Nigeria which is perfectly peaceful.”
The group added: “It is quite sad to note that the way and manner in which President Buhari is handling the the Southern Nigeria is undemocratic, with every deliberate action demonstrating his disdain for the South Eastern Region of Nigeria. This rightly and clearly portrays his declarations on live Television where he divided the country into 97 per cent attention to the North and 5 per cent attention to the South. This is the reflection and the treatment so far, says it all, otherwise, it warrants one to ask why the president has deployed military occupation to the peaceful Southern Nigeria?
“Over the last two weeks, we have been inundated with calls, Social Media alarms of endless complaints by travellers on their way to the South-South and South-East Regions from Lagos State, South-West States and other parts of the country.
“These security agencies, particularly the Customs, now allegedly seize bags of rice, innocent travellers bought from their base in Lagos, etc to take to their people at home. Those not ready to let go their bags of rice are made to cough-out N5,000 to N20,000. We vehemently condemn this actions as inhuman treatments, illegal and unlawful.
“Travelers have every right and are entitled to buy food stuffs, such as bags of rice, cans of oil, etc, to send or give to their loved ones at home. Again, there is a growing concern in the South-East that President Muhammadu Buhari has sent an army occupation in the guise of Operation Python Dance to intimidate, harass, repress and suppress innocent travellers.
“Travellers are coerced to face harrowing traffic gridlock, as well as part with their hard-earned money to these extortioners on the road. Travellers to the South-South and South-East are now made to believe that the Federal Government is punishing them and pushing them to the wall, since they are purportedly regarded as deserving merely 5 per cent representation and attention by President Buhari.
“We forthrightly call on President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara to impress on heads of these security agencies to call their men to order and call-off their officers from these inhuman and illegal acts. If President Buhari is preaching One Nigeria, he must also demonstrate it and be seen to demonstrate by his actions that he truly believes in one Nigeria.
“We have never heard of any complaints from the North about security agencies harassing travellers from Abuja to Kaduna or other parts of the Northern region like the Southern travelers are being treated like common criminals. The Boko-Haram ravaged North-East has not experienced this manner of Despotic Brigandage by armed-to-the-teeth security men.
“Therefore, the President has a duty to demonstrate the peace and unity of the nation and heed to this call and take immediate action to restore faith in Nigeria.”