The House of Representatives on Wednesday called on the Inspector General of Police, Usman Akali, to dismantle all illegal and unnecessary checkpoints in the country.
This resolution was a sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by Ifeanyi Momah on the need to investigate the death of 20 persons along the Owerri-Onitsha road in the Ihala area of Anambra State.
According to Mr Momah, on Sunday, a trailer ladened with goods rammed into vehicles at the checkpoint, killing 20 persons.
Mr Momoh blamed the location of the checkpoint for the accident. He said the checkpoint is at a sloppy place, between two fuel stations.
Mr Momah said the checkpoint ought not to be in such a place adding that checkpoints in Ihala have caused different fatal accidents.
He informed his colleagues that on May 30, 10 persons lost their lives after an accident at a police checkpoint. On November 4, nine persons also lost their lives to a ghastly accident caused by an ‘illegal’ roadblock, the lawmaker said without providing details.
The lawmaker also accused the security officials of human rights abuses at checkpoints.
“Road users have since been subjected to devastating, degrading and inhumane treatment occasioned by the operation of the military and police checkpoints in that area. Being a major express road, the negative impact of this military checkpoint has been grave on the community, as well as all the road users,” he said.
“Recently, a pregnant woman on a bike was whipped thoroughly at the military checkpoint. Traditional rulers are also stopped and searched in an embarrassing manner,” Mr Momah alleged.
The lawmaker said that irate youth wanted to attack the police post due to the latest accident but were prevailed upon.
Speaking on the motion, Yusuf Gagdi (APC, Plateau) said that while the actions of the police are condemnable, citizens have no right to take laws into their hands.
He said some lawmakers are even wishing to have checkpoints in their constituencies.
“We have been screaming for security presence in some locations—and here we have community with checkpoint to protect lives. We must caution the police to be careful in the discharge of their mandate, not to stampede the rights of the communities,” he said.
Also contributing to the motion, Shehu Koko (APC, Kebbi) said no one is sure if the checkpoints are illegal.
Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu), the deputy minority leader, said the only reason why there are checkpoints on the road is because of bad roads. According to Mr Okechukwu, if the roads are good, there would be no need for checkpoints.
Following the debate, Rolland Igbakpa (PDP, Delta) moved that police and the military should cease the use of wooden planks and other barriers to block roads.
The motion was passed as amended when the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, put it to vote.
Failed promises of removal of illegal checkpoints
Dismantling of illegal checkpoints has become a singsong for successive inspector generals of police.
Usman Akali, the current IGP, in his 12-point agenda, promised the dismantling of all illegal roadblocks in the country. However, those roadblocks and the corresponding extortion of motorists continue.
Mr Akali’s predecessor, Mohammed Adamu, had also ordered all commissioners of police in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to remove all illegal checkpoints.
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