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Editorial

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Recent ban of checkpoints on highways and roads by the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, did not come as news to Nigerians as successive IGPs had done same in the past only for the checkpoints to return.

Recent ban of checkpoints on highways and roads by the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, did not come as news to Nigerians as successive IGPs had done same in the past only for the checkpoints to return.

Over the years, police chiefs have had reasons to cancel checkpoints, which find their way back months later, without explanation or corresponding sanction from the authorities. Among other reasons, Ibrahim said the ban became necessary to create an atmosphere of ease of doing business in the country. A statement by the Force spokesman, Jimoh Moshod, said the routes mostly affected are the Lagos-Ibadan, Shagamu-Benin, Benin-Onitsha, Okene-Abuja, Kaduna-Kano, Katsina-Kano, Otukpo-Enugu, and Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressways.
“No police department, section, squad or unit should mount roadblock without the express permission of the Inspector General of Police,” the statement read. While the ban is justified in a number of ways, it is important that the police authorities examine the proposed alternatives to avoid the shortcomings in previous bans. According to the IGP, a Special X-Squad team would be created to monitor roads to ensure compliance and safety of road users. But, it is important that these patrol squads are effectively coached so that our highways and indeed, other roads would not be left at the mercy of criminals.
Members of the public are persuaded to also play their part by using the dedicated telephone numbers inscribed on such patrol vehicles to make distress calls when they sense danger. But, this is not without adequate awareness campaign to make the public distinguish between the patrol teams and other regular policemen who could defy the ban. This is the only way that Nigerians would be saved from the danger of leaving the roads to an untested template, particularly in the face of the various security threats across the country.
We are of the opinion that scrapping checkpoints would prevent various criminalities on the highways, but only if the reasons for the failure of past bans are revisited and fixed. A situation where armed robbers and kidnappers had faked police uniforms to mount roadblocks and dispossess commuters of their money and valuables can no longer be tolerated. The IGP must do all within his authority to allay the fears of the public, and disprove the popular opinion that top police hierarchy often tactically allow the checkpoints to return each time they were banned, because of the financial returns they get from those detailed to the roads. Nigeria Moment wants the IGP to extend the monitoring to the Assistant Inspector Generals of Police, Area Commanders, Commissioners of Police and other officers, who have been empowered to ensure compliance.
Policemen, who under the guise of controlling traffic and illegally checking vehicle particulars in the metropolis often extort money from motorists, should also be examined as their activities amount to roadblocks. Whether at roadblocks or elsewhere, the habit of policemen extorting money from road users must not be allowed to continue, in order not to override their primary responsibility of protecting lives and property.
Nevertheless the Nigeria police authorities should redeem their image by punishing whoever is found culpable in sabotaging the effort to demonstrate that it is no longer business as usual. Notwithstanding the advantage of the ban, the apprehension expressed by some stakeholders that the ban would make it easier for armed robbers and criminals to operate unhindered across the country must be taken seriously by authorities. This is more so as it is feared that the police may not have enough officers and men to patrol the roads, in addition to their core responsibilities. So we suggest that the police high command further collaborates with the Federal Government and the private sector to install close-circuit televisions, CCTV on the highways and other strategic places to give live feeds to a command and control center. The public must be educated to report strange movements, which the special X-squad must be trained to speedily respond to.

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