Some senators on Thursday complained about the numerous highways on federal roads in Nigeria.
This, they said, has not only caused hardship for commuters on the roads but serves as a means of extortion by the security personnel.
This deliberation was borne from a point of order by Enugu senator, Chukwuka Utazi.
Leading the debate, Mr Utazi said the entire security strength of the country has been stretched and as a consequence, insurgency, religious extremism, cattle rustling, kidnapping and armed robbery have put untold pressure on the national security architecture.
He noted that as a result of growing insecurity, there was a need to input road checkpoints on almost all federal highways in all the geo-political zones of Nigeria with predictable and unpredictable consequences.
While roadblocks are necessary, the Senate will not ignore Nigerians who complain that government policies made to protect them have turned into oppressive conduct by those concerned and which the Inspector General of Police may not be aware of, he said.
He said the Lagos-Onitsha road has about 60 checkpoints within short intervals – proof of abuse of road checkpoints.
Listing some checkpoints, Mr Utazi said there are about 23 checkpoints on Lagos-Ore road and over 36 checkpoints on the Ore-Benin highway.
In her contribution, Anambra senator, Lilian Ekwunife, narrated her recent experience on a trip to the South East.
She said there are about 10 checkpoints between Enugu and Lokoja, 10 others between Awka and Onitsha and about 30 checkpoints between Onitsha and Owerri.
The numerous checkpoints have not abated the rate of crimes and kidnappings that happen every day close to the checkpoints, she said.
“I wonder what they are checking. The hardship they are causing is immeasurable. It is not just collapsing the businesses; it is wasting our time.”
She called on security chiefs to remove checkpoints because “there are no benefits but hardships from the checkpoints.”
On his part, the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, said in addition to the trauma suffered by commuters, they also fall victims of extortion.
He complained that police personnel now stop and search peoples’ phones and arrest passengers when they find a bank transaction on the phone.
He emphasised the need to notify the security chiefs of the kind of extortion going on on the federal highways.
On his part, Sam Egwu said the presence of numerous checkpoints is not a nuisance and they should not be removed.
“I don’t believe their presence is a nuisance… All we need to do is ask the police to be professional in discharging their duties,” he said.
The Senate thereafter appealed to the IGP to as a matter of urgency, review the number of checkpoints on Lagos-Onitsha federal highway (and other roads) with a view to scaling them down not only as a result of the coming yuletide season but at all times from now going forward.
The Senate also asked the IGP to direct his men on the road checkpoints to wear human faces while attending to the moderate public and eschew all sorts of extortion as is commonly alleged while carrying out stop-and-search.
The lawmakers appealed to the Federal Emergency Road Maintenance Agency in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing to as a matter of urgency, give face-lifts to all federal highways in order to ease free flow of traffic especially during the yuletide season.
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