Christmas breeze is all over the place. Good tidings are on the rise. Crime too, is rampant. Youths want to be known and seen during Christmas. Some will indulge, some genuinely would make it.
Influx of men and women to the South East is about to begin. Onitsha would be nightmarish if the Commandant of 302 Artillery Brigade Onitsha, Navy Commander, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), even the Nigerian Customs Service are not up and doing.
No matter what arrangements the governors of the South-East are putting on ground to ensure their sons and daughters coming home for Christmas are comfortable and happy, there should also be an understanding with the Nigerian Security commanders, especially the Police, as regards the use of tinted glasses.
Soldiers, who sometimes, do not allow pedestrians to use the Niger Bridge, have become a bit civil in their approach; but the FRSC and Nigeria Police, have been something else.
What they could not do in any part of Northern Nigeria, they do it in the South East with impunity.
Our brothers and sisters with new vehicles would be harassed, intimidated and insulted by security operatives as if they were common criminals.
The culprits are mostly the police. The unthinkable attitudes of the FRSC and Custom towards road users in the South East will be subject for another day.
There is new mood in town for celebrating the Yuletide as more people now return home; more activities and Christmas decorations are conspicuous in the cities in the South East. But there are still pains in the hearts of the celebrants as all kinds of impunity happen during these festive periods.
There will be illegal arrests, illegal detention, unfounded accusations and phantom acts by the Nigerian police to extort money from innocent Nigerians. We support every act of bravery, comradeship and gallantry by the Nigerian police to ride the states in South East of crime. At the same time, we condemn and will continue to condemn acts of intimidation, harassment and wanton acts by the police against the posture of the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, and some of the CP’s in the South East like Mr. Sam Okaula of Anambra State.
Be it Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State , Ifeancyichukwu Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and David Umahi of Ebonyi State; there should be an interest in what happens on the roads during Christmas, starting from now.
There should be publicized lines for citizens to send text messages and report erring security operatives, who have practically taken over the roads especially, Anambra State and Abia State with highly rated Main Markets.
Solomon Arase, the then IGP, extended the revalidation of permit for vehicles with tinted glasses to July 31, 2016. Mr. Arase said the revalidation was free. But is it still free?
He knew what the officers and ranks he has would do and forewarned the police against extortion and harassment of motorists with tinted glasses. Yes, members of the public were yet to revalidate their permit and licences because police made it capturing cumbersome for them. Now the deadline is over and the extortion is alarming.
Vehicles impounded get fines ranging from N3,000 to N35,000 for that offence. In fact, one Nawfia man was weeping like a child over what police did to him for not having current tinted glass; not that he has none.
His vehicle was asked to pull off, and the SIP department called on phone to toll the vehicle to the office. Negotiation ensued and the rest is history. Was extortion supposed to be the penalty for the offence?
Several people have been arrested and more would be arrested on irrelevances and unnecessary raids. The police should know that our people cannot do without enjoyment and would like to be noticed by keeping late nights at drinking joints during the Christmas period and any little harassment would send them back without natives benefitting. The more they are around, the more cash move around in the hands of poor folks in the village.
There are genuine acts that could get the police enough blessings in cash and in kinds than humiliating, embarrassing and throwing up empty threats to our people.
Ebonyi State Commissioner of Police, Peace Ibekwe Abudallah, is taking the campaign herself. I have not heard she molested anybody but she focused on high powerful vehicles and government vehicles. She deserves commendation for going for the untouchables, unlike the humiliation police corporals and sergeants with the collaboration of some of their Inspectors in South-East.
I am in hundred percent support for a clampdown on unauthorized use of tinted glasses, especially those ones that one could not see anything through them and those being abused by drivers of government vehicles.
They cover their plate numbers too. Those vehicles with tinted glasses and covered plate numbers should not be spared, but not innocent Nigerians of South-East extraction, who, after several years of saving, buy a vehicle that is faintly tinted with permit.
That is corruption, because in so doing the civil servant would rely on a second person probably a police man who volunteers to bring out a number for him or her at a cost. Or if you have money to spend, they ask you to buy their own number if you are in a hurry and you know what that means.
At the Media Summit of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Ebonyi State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi CP presented paper on “The roles of Security agencies/media relationship in ensuring crime free society”, the stae’s Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Jude Madu, has been wonderful to the media practitioners but, is the same in other states?
Despite the work the media are doing for security operatives, they still view mediamen with suspicion and always ready to humiliate them. With the attitude of most of the police officials in the South-East, one would be constrained to ask if the laws of Nigeria were done for only Ndigbo of South-East extraction and wherever they dwelt across the nation.
A policeman asking you were you are going or where you are coming from or even requesting that you ferry his girl friend to me does not know his job, but that is what we see on our highways daily. And after that question, they request for alms. Tufiakwa! Now, let me illustrate another scenario of what could be seen during Christmas in the South-East.
Journalists are known to be friends of the Police sequel to their partnership with the police in packaging the day to day exploits of the police but whenever police officer on the road sees journalists, he becomes infuriated and reckless.
On 13th day of October, 2016, a successful and easy going Media Director in reputable organization in Nigeria was traveling in the midst of his colleagues to Sir Emeka Offor’s press briefing on his father’s death. They were flagged down at Adazi-Ani axis after Nene near Okacha junction in Anambra State. They stopped and informed the police officer on the road, Salami Femi, that they were journalists. That appeared to have infuriated him and he shouted, “Clear’’, “pack well’’, “which kind journalist?’’. “So, if you people are journalists we won’t do our work?”
They packed and another police officer, Aghogho Clifford, needless of saying their ranks, demanded for documents and “tinted glass permit”. They were intact, but the tinted permit, according to the police officer, was old one.
The journalist explained that he has been going around with that paper and nobody has drawn his attention to the need for a new one since the vehicle was pretty new. He assured him that he would get it at the very possible time; but he ranted and ranted, seized the documents and demanded that the car be pulled out of the road.
The infuriated director explained that on self-recognition, he should be allowed to go to Offor’s press conference and by Monday, he would get the permit; but it was like talking to the devil.
Then, their leader, Kelvin Abugu, surfaced from his vintage joint in frenzy of catarrh that caught him. He was sneezing recklessly and dropping discharges (rhinorrhea) and cares less of who stood before him.
It was disgusting to say the least, especially as he did that without handkerchief. The Yoruba man and Hausa fellow were more considerate but never uttered a word. Their gestures were suggestive.
Kelvin Abugu worsened the situation as, on approaching him for amicable resolution, was the time the ranting Aghogho Clifford was daring the director to write his name and vowing that he could destroy him and nothing would happen. He literally forced the director to bring out his jotter and write his name, insisting that Commissioner of Police would not teach him his job on that road where he is lord unto himself.
Salami and others were shocked at his ranting but would not say anything.
At that point, Abugu requested to know why a police officer asked that his name be taken and the director was writing it down. He got explanations but rather than request politely from the director to erase, grabbed the D-wallet and seized it.
On request from the director that much was stored in the Digital Wallet, he tore part of it before handing it over to the director. At that point, Aghogho Clifford surfaced again and took photo of the director in front of their leader, Abugu.
The director raised alarm but the team leader looked the other way. Aghogho continued his threat that, he took the photo to equally write about the director in all newspapers and even deal with him.
He even threatened that the director must die before getting to Oraifite in an accident.
Indeed, an accident occurred at Oraifite and the director tried killing his traducer but the “evil spirit’’ ran away. The director suddenly saw a dog from nowhere sauntering to the middle of the road and accelerated to knock it off because, trying to avoid a head on collision would have been disastrous; but the dog rather ran for its life. Evil spirit saw Christ like and ran away.
Abugu later summoned the director and told him off; handed him over his turn D-wallet and asked Salami to hand over the motor documents.
At that point, they were busy doing brisk business on that tinted and other related matters. How foolish the act was. They allowed genuine journalists to stay longer than necessary in their front duty post observing their inanity and how people were coerced into parting with money.
They left but not without explaining to Salami that his disdain for journalists was worrisome. He strived to defend his act by blaming the director for not explaining better as a senior journalist. They could not reconcile why Abugu should tear D-wallet containing money and other valuables but could not scold Aghogho Clifford for being nasty in taking a photo of a journalist in front of his boss.
The alarms raised were useless, but Anambra Commissioner of Police, Sam Okaula, had done a match against corruption in the state to the extent that his PPRO, ASP Nkiru Nwodu, is requesting for names of officers bringing shame to the Nigerian police force Anambra command.
If a senior journalist could be abused and insulted by Aghogho because he was having gun, what would our traders and innocent show-off boys do in the face of similar situation. They would have been harassed, intimidated and embarrassed; but could it be that they were Ndigbo from South –East or what? Not at all, our brothers are at the forefront of the humiliation and antagonism, to ensure money parted ways.
In scene 2, Emmanuel Etuk and co travelers at Unizik junction with vehicle tag PO-25 have devised a means of extorting innocent citizens at will. They would stop passers bye demand for receipt of their handsets, gadgets, electronics like scanners and laptops even personal property bought from Eke Awka. And woe betides you if you don’t have it. It is either you pay a fine before taking it after wasting your time, or you travel back to wherever you are coming from to get it before having your property back.
Last Saturday, 19th of November, 2016 at Unizik junction, a media staff was accosted, asked what he was carrying and he said scanner for photos, Emmanuel wanted to see, probably did not even know what it is but he seized it and requested for receipt. The young man travelled back, got the receipt and presented but they refused to hand him over his property from 11 am to 3:30 pm until the PPRO Nkiru Nwode was contacted and they released him. This is a media man, what would happen to non-initiate. If any journalist is molested or maimed, these people should be held responsible as they threatened fire and brimstone.
I will suggest a transfer out of Anambra state to Zamfara state and the likes for all erring police officers in order to minimize the numerous intimidations and misbehaviors like that at Abia state where a mobile police man shot and killed a newly wedded man because of N20 allegedly.
It is indeed ‘’Tufiakwa’’ for some of these senseless men in IGP’s team. Our South –East governors should do something to empower the citizens’ report their molestations from the police as a way of assisting IGP and commissioners monitor the recalcitrant officers through information sharing..