In one of my write-ups late last year, among other things, I congratulated my brother and friend who was then newly promoted to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. As I said in that outing, the officer was assigned to be the Divisional Police Officer (D.P.O) in charge of New Owerri Divisional Police. I also commended the DPO’s exploits when he was the Police Public Relations Officer for the Imo State Police Command and wished him well in his new portfolio. I drew the attention of the DPO on how his officers and men mounted police check points mostly in the nights on the World-Bank Boulevard New Owerri precisely at the junctions close to Dream Land and Ideal Suit Hotels respectively. I called the D.P.O’s attention to how these policemen were menacingly extorting money from ‘keke’ operators on that road.
Subsequently, I wrote on ‘Matters Arising from the Recent Order to Dismantle Police Road Blocks on Nigerian Roads’ I recounted the recent incident whereby a trigger-happy policeman shot dead a commercial bus driver because the driver allegedly could not produce the N50 bribe the policeman demanded from him at a road block in Onitsha metropolis. This killing as I said, almost brought Onitsha to its knees as rampaging youths took to the streets seeking to convert the killing to ‘ethnic cleansing’ as they claimed that a Hausa had killed an Igbo man in Onitsha. In addition, I also stated how the Onitshaincident was followed by another incident where another trigger-happy policeman killed a passenger after he shot at a conductor who refused to part with N50 in Lagos.
Accordingly, I wrote that it was because of those incessant killings of innocent citizens of this country that made the new Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Alhaji Mohammed Dikko Abubakar announce a total dismantling of all road blocks on the nation’s highways and intra-state roads. I also stated how the I.G. warned against any observed non-compliance to this directive which its default it was reported would attract severe sanctions. Furthermore, I pointed out that some policemen were finding it difficult to comply with the order. I specifically mentioned incessant police ‘road-block’ mounted by police mostly in the evenings probably by the New Owerri Police around New Owerri part of the Owerri metropolis.
For those who have been traveling on Nigerian roads recently, it would be observed that the I.G.’s order for the removal of all police ‘road-blocks’ and check points from Nigerian roads has received reasonable level of compliance except in few areas. However, as at the time of this write-up, the most noticed cases of disobedience to the order is probably from the New Owerri Police Station. Till the time of this write-up, these officers and men still mount ‘Road-Blocks’ mostly in the nights especially along Akanchawa by West End Road in the New Owerri axis. Other points are the earlier mentioned World-Bank Boulevard New Owerri precisely at the junctions/round-abouts close to DreamLand and Ideal Suit Hotels.
Till this moment, we have not heard that the police chief has exempted any area, police station or policeman from the order. What we heard was that the police had totally dismanteled all road blocks from all roads in the country. However, the public is yet to know whether the police from the New Owerri Police Station are allowed in the night to mount check points in their own jurisdiction. Unfortunately, they have kept on in their usual manner extorting money by force from motorists especially ‘keke’ commercial operators. I have said it many times in this column.
The lowest paid police personnel takes home not less than =N50,000.00 monthly. This is coupled with other periodic allowances. So, if a constable takes home as much as =N50,000 every month plus other entitlements, one can now imagine what senior officers financial entitlements would look like.
With the increase in the price of fuel, what could be the average take home of a ‘keke’ operator after buying fuel and maintenance of his tricycle? It is ironical that these things are happening in New Owerri axis when one of the police officers I have always held to high esteem, a fine gentleman is in charge of the New Owerri Police Station. The public never expected this. People are puzzeled. I am yet to under the puzzle because something must be wrong somewhere. It is not only shameful but despicable that the police who are saddled with the responsibility of protecting citizens from illegal extortion and unlawful killings are the one extorting money from innocent and killing people recklessly at check points.
Therefore, it is the view of the public that the New Owerri Police should dismantled all police road blocks in New Owerri axis or explain to the public why they are still on the road despite the Acting Inspector General’s instruction.