Nigerian Army, Police And Custom Mounts Over 100 Road Blocks On The Road To Biafra Land Just To Extort Biafrans
By Somto Okonkwo
For Family Writers
26th December 2016
An ongoing extortion and harassment of Biafran travellers coming back to spend the festival season in their homeland has drawn public outcry and outrage.
It's been noted that the Eastern and Southern Road has been a base for Road side Corruption and extortion where the Nigeria police force/Nigeria Army/Nigeria Customs now use to make billions of Naira every festive season. Right now, Biafrans Traveling home have raised serious alarm towards the ongoing fraud and oppression, suppression and intimidation currently been carried out by the Nigeria military, Police force and Custom combined.
Mr. Chuks Okafor a victim, speaking to Somto Okonkwo of Family Writers complained bitterly his ordeal in the hands of Nigeria Police/Army/Custom on his way back home:
"To be honest am so heartbroken. I just feel like crying talking to you. What I and my family experienced just traveling from Lagos to Anambra state was hell. I was in shock to see the numbers of roads blocks that was put in place along the express while coming home. And the manner of which we were stopped and talked to wasn't encouraging at all. It was as if those security agents were on a mission to make sure anyone entering the East must suffer or pay for some crime they committed because I don't understand why this much Road blocks or is the Nigeria Armed forces now waging war on Igbos? I just don't get it. While traveling I was stop by the Nigeria Army on 10 different check points who collected nothing less than N10,000 from me. Also the Nigeria Customs stopped me and demanded about N25,000 Naira claiming my car was a stolen vehicle even when I showed them the complete papers. After 2 hours of arguments they collected N15000 which I transferred through online banking since I wasn't having enough cash on me again. I thought that was the end of my misery only for us to be constantly stopped by the Nigeria police force who kept collecting either N500 or N1000 just for them to allow go through the check points. I ran out of Money that I had to borrow money from my wife and a friend who was traveling with us. I even tried using the ATM to no avail because it's either the ones we saw was not paying or the queue was so horrible. Well, when I finally got home, I sat down to calculate the amount of money that was collected from me only for me to discover that I spent nothing less than N37000 Naira just to make sure I safely escape these checks points. It was terrifying because at one point a police officer threatened to shot me if I kept arguing with them about the money they were demanding. It's so sad that we have to go through this in Nigeria even when there's no money in the country and the government still send their agents to Igbo land to keep collecting money from us and even kill us when we refuse to pay for a bribe. It's very pathetic, i seriously regret been a citizen of this country. I just thank God that i and my family got home safely".
Still on this issue, a pro-democracy group, Wailing Wailers have called on President Muhammadu Buhari; Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara to call the heads of the agencies to order.
In a statement in Abuja, on Friday the 23rd of December 2016, by its National Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Sani Ringim, the Wailing Wailers said:
“We were alarmed by the unlawful and reprobative actions of the Nigeria Army, the Police, the Customs and other security agencies on the eastern routes of Nigeria. It is very detestable and condemnable that travellers are made to suffer a harrowing hardship, harassments, intimidation and are being extorted in the hands of the security forces who have mounted over a 100 road blocks on the roads to eastern parts of Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari; Saraki, Senate President and Dogara, Speaker"
“Travellers going to celebrate the Christmas and the New year in the eastern parts of Nigeria are whiling and wailing in rigorous pains inflicted on them by the dehumanizing treatments meted out on them by the security agencies and are crying out, laying their complaints through various mediums that the Army, the Police and the Customs officers have mounted unreasonable, uncanny and very disturbing road blocks for no reason on their routes and now subjecting them through humiliation, harassment, extortion and intimidation on their way to their home town to spend time with their loved ones during this Christmas season. “We recall that President Buhari through his Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai has deployed fierced-looking Soldiers to the Eastern Nigerian states in what he termed “Operation Python Dance”.
" We wonder the motives and reasons for such military occupation of the peaceful South East geopolitical Zone of Nigeria, when there is no civil unrest nor threat to our national unity and security from the region except the President’s incarceration of Nnamdi Kanu, the Pro-Biafran Leader. “The war torn North East in Borno, Adamawa, Sambisa where our Chibok girls are being held captive by Boko Haram terrorists does not have such heavy security road blocks, check points and military warfare as that of the Eastern Nigeria which is perfectly peaceful.” The group added: “It is quite sad to note that the way and manner in which President Buhari is handling the the Southern Nigeria is undemocratic, with every deliberate action demonstrating his disdain for the South Eastern Region of Nigeria. This rightly and clearly portrays his declarations on live Television where he divided the country into 97 per cent attention to the North and 5 per cent attention to the South. This is the reflection and the treatment so far, says it all, otherwise, it warrants one to ask why the president has deployed military occupation to the peaceful Southern Nigeria? “Over the last two weeks, we have been inundated with calls, Social Media alarms of endless complaints by travellers on their way to the South-South and South-East Regions from Lagos State, South-West States and other parts of the country. “These security agencies, particularly the Customs, now allegedly seize bags of rice, innocent travellers bought from their base in Lagos, etc to take to their people at home. Those not ready to let go their bags of rice are made to cough-out N5,000 to N20,000. We vehemently condemn this actions as inhuman treatments, illegal and unlawful. “Travelers have every right and are entitled to buy food stuffs, such as bags of rice, cans of oil, etc, to send or give to their loved ones at home. Again, there is a growing concern in the South-East that President Muhammadu Buhari has sent an army occupation in the guise of Operation Python Dance to intimidate, harass, repress and suppress innocent travellers.
“Travellers are coerced to face harrowing traffic gridlock, as well as part with their hard-earned money to these extortioners on the road. Travellers to the South-South and South-East are now made to believe that the Federal Government is punishing them and pushing them to the wall, since they are purportedly regarded as deserving merely 5 per cent representation and attention by President Buhari. “We forthrightly call on President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker Yakubu Dogara to impress on heads of these security agencies to call their men to order and call-off their officers from these inhuman and illegal acts. If President Buhari is preaching One Nigeria, he must also demonstrate it and be seen to demonstrate by his actions that he truly believes in one Nigeria. “We have never heard of any complaints from the North about security agencies harassing travellers from Abuja to Kaduna or other parts of the Northern region like the Southern travelers are being treated like common criminals. The Boko-Haram ravaged North-East has not experienced this manner of Despotic Brigandage by armed-to-the-teeth security men.
“Therefore, the President has a duty to demonstrate the peace and unity of the nation and heed to this call and take immediate action to restore faith in Nigeria.”
Whatever the case may be, this more confirmation and prove that Biafrans in Nigeria will always be a subject of oppression and Marginalization in Nigeria.
The Biafra Herald