Alarmed by the organized extortion of ordinary road users in the Southeast, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, Ozo Joe Mmamel, has petitioned the Enugu State Police Commissioner, and the General Officer Commanding the 82nd Division of the Nigerian Army to call their fraudulent officers and men to order in order to save the lives of the people of the area.
Ozo Mmamel, who is a special rapporteur on corruption, election and good governance, said he was forced to petition the two top security agencies because of increasing extortion of poor natives of the state by soldiers and policemen, who are statutorily meant to protect and defend the hapless natives.
In the two separate letters addressed to the GOC 82 Division and the CP Enugu State, Mmamel drew the attention of the GOC and the CP to illicit activities of soldiers and policemen, who have turned the highways into a mining field by placing heavy fees on all motorists passing through the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway via Independence Layout, Enugu-9th Mile Express by Uguwu Onyeama and 9th Mile-Udi Old Road.
In the letter to the Enugu CP dated November 9, 2021, the Human Rights Commissioner wrote: “I have received several complaints from well-meaning citizens on the degrading and inhuman treatment being meted on travelers by the military and the police force, especially on these roads mentioned above.
“These roads blocks manned by personnel of the Nigerian army and the Nigerian police, have caused untold hardships to the road users, who most of the times stay in artificially-created traffic gridlock by soldiers and policemen who openly collect money from transporters who ply the roads without caring about how long they stay on the hot sun.
“As it has emerged, it does not seem to bother these soldiers and policemen that they are subjecting innocent citizens of Nigeria they are expected to protect and defend, to undue and avoidable hardship as long as they collect bribes openly from the poor transporters without any form of shame and empathy on the poor souls they are exploiting.
“As a result of these mindless exploitations by soldiers and policemen, travelling in and out of Enugu metropolis is now a nightmare because of the traffic gridlock mostly occasioned by these roadblocks and checkpoints. There are at least four roadblocks/checkpoints by both military and police force from Naira Triangle/NNPC Mega Station to Four Corner Ozalla Junction Enugu-Port Harcourt Express Road, a distance of about ten kilometers.
“Sir, imagine the mental and physical torture a traveler on that road goes through daily in these hard times. Sir, it is pertinent to inform you that the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Ituku, Ozalla, a major health service provider, is situate along the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway. Many patients have lost their lives because they cannot not quick access /emergency service to the referral hospital. Medical personnel and other employees have the same sad tales to tell arising from the desire by soldiers and policemen to make quick money at the expense of human lives. (Vanguard)