By News Express on 05/12/2016
Officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force have in the past 14 months (October 2015 – December 2016) “criminally pocketed not less than N9.13 billion from roadblock extortion in their various roadblocks in the Southeast zone,” rights activists from the zone claimed on Monday morning.
The claim was part of a detailed statement opposing the deployment of troops to the Southeast in an exercise the Military High Command tagged “Operation Python Dance”.
The statement was issued in Onitsha by the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) in collaboration with the Southeast Based Coalition of Human Rights Organizations (SBCHROs), an umbrella body of 10 social rights groups.
According to the statement, a recent update by Intersociety “on road crimes committed by police and military personnel (i.e. army and navy) clearly showed that there are not less than 200 military roadblocks and 1,000 police roadblocks on Southeast Roads as at 4th of December 2016; (27) that in those roadblocks, various forms of extortion are applied to rob the motorists and other road users at official gunpoint.”
The statement claimed that “while soldiers and navy use structured form of extortion (i.e. hiring of civilians or garage touts to forcefully collect tolls on their behalf), the police use open method or direct extortion at gunpoint. The choice of Southeast Roads is because of its blue-collar nature or high commercial and cash transactions.”
Continuing, the statement said: “Our updated checks as at today show that there are not less than 250 police roadblocks on Anambra’s Federal and State Roads as well as its city roads and that each police roadblock extorts minimum of N50 note and average of N100 note from each commercial motorist; translating to at least N30,000 for each police roadblock per day; N7.5 million daily from not less than 250 police roadblocks; N225 million monthly and N2.7 billion per year; that the same facts and circumstances are applicable to Abia State; another major blue-collar state after Anambra State; with its 250 police roadblocks criminally pocketing N2.7 billion per year; that Imo State; a lesser blue-collar state, has at least 200 police roadblocks to its name; with each police roadblock pocketing not less than N15,000 daily; N3 million for its 200 police roadblocks per day, N90 million per month and N1.08 billion per annum.
“That Enugu and Ebonyi states with relatively white-collar or civil service sub culture, have at least 300 police roadblocks to their names on average of 150 each; and each of the police roadblock criminally pockets at least N15,000 per day and N4.5 million for the 300 police roadblocks per day; N135 million per month and N1.62 billion per year; on average of N810 million for each of the two states; that in all, the police personnel at over 1,000 police roadblocks mounted on Southeast Roads have between January 2016 and December 2016 criminally collected and pocketed from Southeast commercial road users a total of N8.1 billion; with Anambra State accounting for N2.7 billion; Abia State N2.7 billion; Imo State N1.08 billion; Enugu State N810 million; and Ebonyi State N810 million; (37) that added to N1.03 billion criminally collected and pocketed between 21st October and 21st December 2015 by not less than 750 police roadblocks then on Southeast Roads; the total roadblock theft by the Nigeria Police Force in the past 14 months from Southeast Roads is N9.13 billion.”
We hear that operation Python Dance was ended late December 2016. Nevertheless, that has not ended the siege on poor innocent people in Igbo land. What’s going on? Must our noses be rubbed in dirt before Nigeria will let us be?Southeast needs to be free. The Igbo man must not be yoked this way.