It appears that Nigeria has returned to the embarrassing experience of yester years, as illegal and multiple road blocks mounted by men of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) tend to be thriving again.
The practice tends to flourish in spite of measures put up to checkmate it across the country, as the number of road blocks keeps increasing by the day, and officers muster more courage to continue on such activities with the major motive of extortion of motorists.
As part of efforts to control the multiple extortionist road blocks some past police bosses had ordered policemen on stop-and-search duty to refrain from the routine vehicle particular check so as to ward off some of the negative imprints of such activity, but this order tends to be impotent enough to reverse the ugly trend, as the systemic, illegal and lucrative trade still flourishes.
A recent journey to Calabar has revealed that there were at least 36 road blocks/check points from Port Harcourt to Calabar.
Former Minister of Integration and Cooperation in Africa, Dr. Bimbola Ogunkelu while relating his experience with respect to road blocks/checkpoints said “Sometime ago, I travelled from Togo to Nigeria through Benin Republic. From Seme border to Badagry, I noticed about 28 road blocks. .. it is like every 260 metres there is a road block especially in the evenings.”
From all indications, if the essence of the road blocks had been simply to tighten security, indeed their proliferation probably would not have attracted much reactions, but instead it has been established, even at the full glare of commuters that policemen at the checkpoints/road blocks are just on extortion mission, instead for the purpose of security.
Most of the police men at the so-called check points dent the image of the police force through petty corruption, indiscipline, brutality and oppression among others in the name of checking particulars.
While they point the gun at motorists with right hand, the left hand is used in collecting bribe, even a ridiculous sum of N50 from commercial drivers. Some of them that are heartless will go extra mile to shoot, and there had been reports of drivers that lost their lives through this.
In Port Harcourt and its environs, this phenomenon has become very much pronounced virtually in every road on Port Harcourt especially in the evening hours, and reports have revealed that security operatives on the East-West Road are the worst offenders.
The increasing number of vehicles in Port Harcourt, coupled with number of roads under construction and the attendant pot-holes have added to the bad traffic situation which is usually experienced when these action/extortionist Police men mount road blocks/check points.
The resultant effect of this is that a driver plying certain areas within the Port Harcourt axis will have to set aside at least N800 for police checkpoints/ road blocks, while those plying outside the city like Calabar will set aside at least N2,000 for settlement of Police.
Not minding the monetary aspect of the thing, but the most disturbing aspect is the untold hardship that commuters face especially in the evening hours while returning from work, as the result of traffic jam alias “hold up” keep people trapped on the way home for several hours.
His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi had a feel of this ugly trend when on a Friday evening in the first quarter of 2010, while passing through the Choba/Rumuokoro route, very close to the “Obiri Ikwerre” met a “hold up” and the cause of this was due to Police activities at the check point.
The scenario motivated the action police men and other security operatives on the governors convey to manhandle these police men at check point, and dismantled all that they mounted, while some were taken away, at the glare of road users.
For about two weeks following, there was no operation of road block/check point at that point, and motorists had free movement within that area throughout that period.
Indeed several orders had been issued concerning check points/road block but these have been flouted continually.
Although junior police officers might be dismissed from service, and have been dismissed when caught extorting money, but it is yet to be mentioned of senior officers, especially Divisional Police Officers (DPO) among others whose beats or area of operations are known for such illegality.
It is alleged that returns are rendered to such senior officers.
It is my belief that much has not been done yet by the right authorities. It is the right time Mr. President, the National Assembly and the Police Service Commission brase up to the challenge of scrutinising and sanitise the corruption element that has brought the Nigerian Police to the ridicule.
Though the challenge is enormous, it must be emphasised that attitude of Police Force with respect to corruption reveals the level of corruption in Nigeria.
Much has not been done yet to properly enforce order in the police. The public and motorists alike have cried aloud. Unless these senior officers are deait with, there might not be an end to extortion and other road block irregularities. That National embarrassment must stop.
Immigration Steps Up Anti-Touting Vigilance
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Passports Command, Ikoyi, has increased its surveillance on touting in a bid to check extortion within its jurisdiction.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with The Tide in Lagos, last Friday, the Immigration Comptroller, Passports Office, Ikoyi, Lagos, Deputy Comptroller Liman A.I , said the negative impact of touting on the nation’s economy would not be allowed to continue under his watch.
He said ,”we are applying persuasion, dialogue and seeking the support of all well meaning stakeholders in this area to spread the anti-touting message and dissuade people from unlawful acts. However, we could apply coercive power as the need arises.
“With the selfless leadership shown by the Comptroller General, Alhaji Mohammed Babandede, we at the PCO, Ikoyi, Lagos, have decided to re-dedicate ourselves to duty and complement the efforts of the CGIS.
“We are prepared more than ever to wage the anti-miscreants war relentlessly.
Liman assured the general public of friendly environment for legitimate transaction in an effort to strengthen the national economy, warning deviants to shun touting and other related vices.
According to him, “the command has keyed into the various strategies including the use of ICT in gathering of intelligence, among others.
“The service believes that the fight against miscreants within its corridor cannot be undertaken by the service alone, hence our call on Nigerians to partner with us in ensuring that the passport seekers do not patronise touts to defraud them. Our resolve is unshaken and our commitment is total”.
On her part, the Public Relations Officer of the command, a Deputy Superintendent of Immigration (DSI), Mrs Adetoun Shiyindemi, commended the Deputy Comptroller Liman, for his selfless service, pointing out that he has really given the officers and men of the command a sense of belonging.
“Since the Comptroller came in, it has been a servant-leader relationship here at Ikoyi PCO and we are all motivated to put in our best with what the CGIS has given us, you will see a new immigration service”, she assured.
By: NkpemenyieMcdominic, Lagos
Union Urges NIMASA, RSG To Dredge PH/Bonny Jetty
The Bonny Maritime Transport Association (BMTA) has called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Rivers State Government to dredge the Port Harcourt/Bonny Jetty to enhance marine operations.
The union said the low shore of the river hampers its operations and grounds boats.
The Marine Safety Officer, BMTA, Comrade Kings Don, who made the call, said the low shore of the jetty was not helpful to marine operations.
According to him, drivers and passengers find it difficult to ply the route whenever the tide is low, thus wasting man hours.
“Sometimes, we push the boat to a level it would afloat due to low tide suffered in the jetty. We are appealing to NIMASA and the state government to assist and dredge the jetty for more efficiency”, he pleaded.
Don described the Port Harcourt/Bonny Jetty as the gateway to Bonny Island and other riverine communities, and called on NIMASA and the state government to intervene and make the marine sector viable in the area.
He said that the prompt dredging of the jetty would enhance water transportation in the state and improve its revenue generation.
He, however, commended the security agents, especially the Nigerian Navy and the marine police, for rescuing the waterways and creeks from all forms of criminality.
Comrade Don appealed to the security agents to engage in 24-hour patrol of the routes and other channels to save lives and property.
By: Chinedu Wosu
Boat Mishaps: Ship Owner Blames Absence Of Safety Regulations
A renowned ship owner in the country, Alhaji Aminu Umar, has decried lack of standardisation and enforcement of safety measures on the nation’s inland waterways by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
He also blamed lack of will to enforce regulations, safety, standard and regulations on overloading, night voyage, rickety and old craft as causes of mishap on the inland waterways.
Alhaji Umar, who is a former president, Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), said in Minna, Niger State, recently that enforcement of safety and standard on the nation’s inland waterways was weak.
Reacting to incessant boat mishaps in the country, Umar said, “there is no standard applied on movement of people, as all kinds of boat are being used. It is important that we standardise, because lack of safety and standard will increase accident.
“I think, the task of NIWA is to standardise conditions and procedures on the nation’s waterways”.
He also called for the regulation of movement of badges and passenger boats across the port environment.
“It’s a huge risk allowing badges moving containers around the port area side by side with boats carrying passengers.
“Moving people and containers at the same time is a huge risk, and a safety concern.
“NIWA and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should see to this and tackle the menace”, he said.
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