Motorists and residents plying the Onitsha-Owerri highway have complained of alleged extortion by the navy, which has arrange checkpoints at Enamel junction and Obosi bypass on the federal highway.
E mail Junction is positioned in Ogbaru Native Authorities Space, whereas Obosi Bypass is positioned in Idemili North Native Authorities Space, just a few kilometers away.
The Onitsha-Owerri highway, which connects motorists from the Higher Iweka axis to different communities in Anambra State, has been in poor situation for years, inflicting each day gridlock.
Because of the 6am to 6pm curfew imposed by the state authorities in some native authorities areas together with Ogbara LGA, navy personnel have resorted to extorting motorists plying the stretch of highway till 6pm, in keeping with commuters.
Some drivers who spoke to reporters on Monday complained that navy checkpoints, particularly the E mail junction, had grow to be a “jail camp” the place drivers have been detained and generally subjected to varied types of punishment, from leaping frogs to sitting on the naked ground.
Our correspondent gathered that due to the curfew, tricycle operators pay N200, shuttle buses pay N500, whereas heavy automobiles pay greater than N1,000 on the factors, relying on the load they’re carrying.
A resident of Awada in Idemila North LGA, recognized as Catherine Osondu, who mentioned she each day passes via the highway to her residence, complained that on Sunday, she and different commuters have been stopped by troopers at E mail junction for merely taking a look at navy personnel whereas asking for change ( stability) for the tricycle operator who carried them.
Osondu mentioned: “At about 6:47pm on Sunday, when the Keke carrying us obtained to Enamel, the rider of the Keke gave N500 to the navy personnel, and as they demanded change, they forcefully ordered us to get off. Later, they gave change to the Keke N300 driver and ordered him to maneuver and us to face on the aspect of the highway.
“They began asking us if we have been taking a look at their faces whereas they have been in search of change for the driving force Keke. They stored us for greater than an hour.
“Another victims who tried to withstand have been additionally compelled to leap frog in our presence. It was a humorous expertise that night. I did not understand it was now against the law to look into the faces of troopers.”
The chief of the Tricycle Drivers Affiliation within the space, Jude Eche, referred to as on the state authorities to carry the curfew imposed since June in order that the navy would don’t have any purpose to extort drivers.
He mentioned: “We’re all the time on the mercy of troopers at Enamel and Obosi checkpoints each evening. On Sunday evening, there have been complaints that some individuals have been detained and a few have been made to leap frogs by troopers for flimsy causes.
“Their actions on the checkpoint within the title of introducing a curfew all the time trigger ache to highway customers, whereas after every cost they are going to ask for change to offer to the bus operators. This all the time causes a really lengthy interval of downtime each evening.
“Driving alongside that axis has grow to be a nightmare. We are able to solely attraction to the state authorities to carry the curfew that has been in place since June, in order that these individuals don’t have any purpose to proceed extorting drivers.”
When contacted, the chairman of the Awada Central Group Growth Affiliation, Gabriel Nkasi, famous that communities within the space noticed with dismay the “unfavorable” angle of the troopers on the checkpoints.
Nkasi mentioned that whereas their presence was a means of scaring hoodlums and robbers off the highway, extorting drivers due to the curfew was not a part of their job, including that they’d turned the checkpoints into enterprise hubs.
He mentioned: “We aren’t towards them placing up a roadblock. Nevertheless it ought to be for surveillance and bettering security by curbing crime on the highway. It’s unacceptable to extort numerous sums of cash from drivers within the title of curfew restrictions, and we name on the authorities to warn them.
“The gridlock brought on by their actions mixed with the dangerous highway is all the time terrifying and has induced immense hardship to highway customers. We name on the federal government to have a look at the curfew that has been launched since June and see how it is going to be abolished.”
The state police spokesperson, Tochukwu Ikenga, mentioned the state police commissioner frowned on such actions by safety operatives and urged residents who fell sufferer to such to file an official criticism via the police public criticism line.
“The management of the command frowns upon such (actions) or some other associated vices. The Commissioner of Police, after receiving such studies, has since directed the X-squad group and the CP monitoring unit to be looking out for such corrupt officers.
“He equally inspired residents to all the time reap the benefits of the management quantity 07039194332 and the general public complaints unit quantity 08039334002 of the command to report such officer,” Ikenga added.
On the time of submitting this report, the Press Secretary to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, Christian Aburime, didn’t reply calls to his cellphone line or reply to messages despatched to him.