OHANEZE Ndigbo has raised the alarm over the high number of illegal road blocks mounted across roads in the South-East by the military and police, calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct them to end the siege. Ohanaeze described the numerous checkpoints that dot all the roads in zone, even the very bad ones, as “tortuous and vicious”.
“The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo travelled on road from Lagos to Abeokuta, Ogun State, to celebrate Chief Olusegun Obasanjo at 85. To my chagrin, there was no single road block from Lagos to Abeokuta. In contra-distinction, every two kilometers in the South East has a road block. It is either an army road block, police road block, road safety road block, Vehicle Inspection Officers, VIO, road block, NDLEA road block or a combination of all, etc. Most disturbingly, each of the checkpoints extorts money, openly and shamelessly, from the road users”, Ohanaeze Ndigbo spokesman, Dr. Alex Chidozie Ogbonnia, lamented in a statement.
He recalled that, worried by the ugly trend, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof. George Obiozor, had played host to the General Officer Commanding, GOC, 82 Division, Maj-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, at the national secretariat of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and brought to his attention “the inhuman treatments the civilians in the region undergo under the very armed forces whose primary duty is to protect them”.
During the visit, Obiozor
demanded from the GOC “a security network that conforms to the best global practices”, even as he lamented “various forms of indignities that the people of South East encounter in the hands of the security operatives”, but nothing has changed, rather it keeps getting worse”.
The spokesperson continued: “On several occasions highly placed Nigerians have drawn the attention of the GOC and the Commissioners of Police in the South East to the illicit activities of soldiers and policemen, who have turned the highways and rural roads into a cash cow by placing heavy fees on all motorists passing through the roads.
“One of the worst recrudescence to any country is for the populace, including children to watch the security operatives openly and shamelessly collecting bribes from or robing the motorists with arrogance and bravado.
“The recurring intrigue is how to draw a distinction between the notorious armed robbers with unlicensed guns on one hand and the government security operatives who rob the people with licensed guns, on the other. In other words, the;unknown gun men and the known gun men.”
“The illicit toll gate phenomenon has placed the good people of South East in excruciating pains. In the first place, a journey of less than an hour takes over two hours because of traffic gridlock mostly occasioned by these roadblocks and check points.
“Under the prevailing circumstance; bad roads, poor electricity, known and unknown gun men, unemployment, high cost of goods etc; it is only a resilient and tenacious Igbo that can survive in it.
“But beyond all these, elementary psychology informs that the environment or nurture has a great influence on child development. In other words, a siege corrupt and vicious environment impacts the younger generation adversely.’’
“One will not search further to locate the nexus between the militarization of the South East by the Nigerian government and the armed restiveness among youths in the South East.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has never wavered in its philosophy that a right input will yield a right output. But, when a government or a group insists on the wrong approach to issues, positive outcome is well-nigh impossible. Ohanaeze is unequivocal that the restiveness in the South East is a response to the repressive stimuli it receives from the centre.
“On the other hand, a welcome government policy such as a Nigerian president of South East origin will automatically bring smiles on the faces of all. It will be jubilation galore and Nigerians will have hope and vision of a better future to protect”.