HomeNewsSouth East Residents Face Harsh Roadblocks Ahead of Holidays

South East Residents Face Harsh Roadblocks Ahead of Holidays

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The South East region of Nigeria is known for its vibrant culture and festive spirit, especially during the end of the year when many residents return home from different parts of the country and abroad. However, this year, they are likely to face a nightmare of passing through uncountable checkpoints, which are actually extortion points by security operatives.

 

Extortion, humiliation, and intimidation

According to a report by Vanguard, no route to the region is free of excessive extortion checkpoints, where motorists are openly extorted for amounts ranging between N200 to N1000 by military and police personnel. In some cases, passengers are forced to disembark from their vehicles and walk across before boarding again, regardless of the weather or their health condition.

 

Various sources, such as civil society groups, youth leaders, and academics, condemn the high rate of extortion and intimidation of the residents of the South East. They call on the police and military high commands to take drastic measures against their men involved in the evil act. They also urge the governors of the South East states to rise up and say enough is enough, and stop treating the people as slaves and conquered people.

 

Security or insecurity?

The effectiveness and necessity of the multiple checkpoints in the region are questionable, especially as they cause traffic congestion, waste of time, and frustration for the travelers. Security is more about intelligence gathering and patrols, rather than staying at a fixed point which the criminals can easily avoid.

 

Moreover, the checkpoints are sometimes used for evil purposes, such as kidnapping and disappearance of innocent people, especially youths with laptops, phones, or flashy cars, who are labeled as “Yahoo boys” and taken away by the security operatives.

 

The checkpoints could generate hatred and resentment in the minds of the residents, thereby making them less willing to cooperate or volunteer information to the security agencies. They could also expose the security operatives to needless attacks by the criminals, who could take advantage of their distraction and vulnerability while extorting money from motorists.

 

A plea for change

The people of the South East deserve to celebrate their culture and heritage with dignity and respect, and not with fear and oppression. Let us hope that the federal government, the security agencies, and the state governments will clear the roadblocks and ensure that the travelers are not harassed or exploited on their way home. Vigilance and reporting of any suspicious or unlawful activities to the authorities can make a difference.

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