The House of Representatives has urged the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to order the removal of illegal roadblocks set up by men of the Nigeria Police Force on roads across the country.
The lawmaker representing Ihiala Federal Constituency in Anambra State at the House, Ifeanyi Momah, at the plenary on Wednesday, raised the alarm over accidents being caused by roadblocks along the Onitsha-Owerri highway.
In a motion titled ‘Need to Investigate Loss of So Many Lives Along the Onitsha-Owerri Express Road Within Ihiala Federal Constituency,’ Momah noted that for over two years, military and police checkpoints in lhiala, along the expressway, had been operational to quell insecurity in the area.
The lawmaker said, “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.
“In this menace, no one is spared; all suffer under the weight of the oppression. Men, women and children are forced to alight from their cars and raise their hands and pass through the checkpoint.
“Nursing and pregnant women are also not spared. In fact, nursing mothers are made to carry their babies up high as they walk across the checkpoint, sometimes being forced to walk for over 1km.
“Very 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, including ransacking of their traditional attire.”
Momah added, “The House is cognisant that the military and police checkpoints are located in the middle of the busiest road in the entire local government area, opposite Abbot Boys Secondary School Ihiala, and opposite Ihiala Divisional Police Headquarters, both located within the same axis, an area that ought not to be associated with a military checkpoint.
“As is popular knowledge, military checkpoints are to be stationed at border communities. Thus, this military checkpoint ought to be mounted at Amorka community, which is the border between lhiala Local Government Area and Imo State, and not its current location which is a commercial hub crammed with markets, businesses, schools, etc.”
According to the lawmaker, leaders of the community have asked that the checkpoint be relocated due to the difficulties they cause. “Yet, this dreadful situation persists with no glimmer of hope of improvement,” he said.
Momah recalled how on May 30, 2020, a police makeshift road blockage was allegedly the cause of a fatal accident at Ihiala, which led to the death of a trailer driver and his conductor as well as over 10 bus passengers.
He also recalled how on November 4, 2021, at about 3:50pm, an accident involving three vehicles on the Onitsha-Owerri-Ihiala road claimed the lives of three children and six Adults, according to the Federal Road Safety Corps, quoting an eyewitness as saying that the driver, upon sighting the police checkpoint, tried to apply the brakes but they failed, thus resulting in the fatal accident.
The lawmaker further recalled that November 28, 2021, a trailer carrying a container load of goods ran over 20 public road users who died on the spot.
Momah prayed the House to observe a minute silence “for the souls of those that have lost their lives in various accidents at the police and military checkpoints along the Onitsha Owerri road in Ihiala Federal Constituency, especially the fatal accident of Sunday, 28th November, 2021.”
The lawmaker also prayed the House to ask the IGP to direct the Commission of Police in Anambra State to review the location of the police checkpoint in Ihiala, “with a view to forestalling further occurrence of such disaster especially during the festive season.”
The lawmakers unanimously granted the prayer.