A civil society organisation, Security Situation Room, SSR, has called on the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS and Chief of Army Staff, COAS, to order the dismantling of the military roadblock at Ihiala by Karis Christian College on Owerri-Onitsha expressway, as the military men there were extorting and ethnic profiling commuters, who are forced to trek a long distance, with an hour gridlock at a needless roadblock.
Convener, Security Situation Room, Douglas Ogbankwa, in a statement, in Benin City, Edo State, yesterday, said: “There is a huge violation of the human rights of commuters by men of the Nigerian Army on the Owerri-Onitsha expressway at Ihiala.
“This very pedestrian hold-up does not have any security value. The only thing going on there is akin to armed robbery, as the soldiers, who hide their name tags and service numbers with black vests, extort innocent passengers, with guns purchased by the taxes of the citizens.
“A similar illegal roadblock at Azia Junction on the same Owerri-Onitsha expressway claimed the lives of many Nigerians before it was dismantled.
“The matter is even made worse as a Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra State had declared these roadblocks illegal, as they are an infringement on the rights of freedom of movements, which is impeded, by illegal and extortionate roadblocks.
“Nigeria is not at war and place of the Nigeria Army is in the Barracks or flash points of insurgency and banditry in the North East or North West. There are no such roadblocks in the North East and North West and we shall make a formal report to the United Nations that the Nigerian Army is engaging in ethnic profiling in the South East, as these obnoxious roadblocks, do not exist in other parts of Nigeria.
“Citizens have rights to free movement, liberty, freedom against discrimination, as we reckon that these targeted roadblocks tend to diminish the pride and person of Nigerians playing the road, who are mostly of Igbo extraction and same is at variance with Section 42 of the Constitution.
“We also call on the Federal Government to arrest the commanders and men on the ground in those roadblocks, as they collect money with the guns given to them to protect the same citizens they steal from.”
“The Army should do something about the oppression of commuters on the Owerri-Onitsha Expressway, at Ihiala by Karis Christian College, and doing ethnic profiling by asking commuters to trek a long distance, with an hour gridlock over a needless roadblock. They harass citizens, seizing their phones and other personal effects. The Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Army Staff should call their men to order.
“At night, these army men block the road and extort drivers and car owners. The Federal Government should act on this immediately, the suffering is too much. We have several times witnessed these rights violations.”