By Isa Isawade
Motorists, especially commercial transport workers, in Osun State, South-West of Nigeria are agonising over constant extortion by men of the Osun State Police Command, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) across the State of Osun on daily basis.
P.M.NEWS witnessed some untoward scenes on Wednesday, 10 April at the numerous checkpoints created on the roads from Gbogan to Osogbo and from Osogbo to Ile-Ife by personnel of the aforementioned agencies, where civilians were harassed and exploited with impunity.
Between the very short distance of Osogbo and Ile-Ife, there were nine checkpoints where illegal tolls ranging from N50 to N200 were paid by motorists at gunpoint.
Non-cooperative drivers who had to be forced to park their vehicles and alight before yielding were made to pay between N500 and N1,000 to secure their release.
The policemen charged either N50 or N100 depending on the operators of each checkpoint, while the FRSC and VIO men were charging N200 per vehicle at their own checkpoints.
The FRSC had two check points along the roads- one in front of the filling station at Owode-Ede, and the other at the RCC Express.
The VIO also had two checkpoints – one at Eleyin bus-stop after Owode while the other was on the RCC Express.
The Nigeria Police had the highest number with four checkpoints created within the distance. One in front of Sekona Grammar School, the second one was in front of the police station at Edun Abon, the third one at Moro ‘foreign lane’, while the fourth one was on the RCC Express.
To the dismay of passengers and onlookers, the officers threatened to delay for hours or shoot any non-cooperative driver.
Things got worse for the motorists when another team of policemen from the mobile unit, drafted to Moro, Yakoyo in respect of a murder incident which was said to have occurred in the area few days before, also established an impromptu checkpoint in order to quickly rake into their pockets some naira notes.
As the disgraceful act continued with reckless abandon, the frustrated passengers grumbled and asked themselves whether Nigeria could be regarded as a country or a mere jungle.
One of the drivers, while speaking with P.M.NEWS complained bitterly that “We work from morning till night, and at the end, we are always left with nothing because after buying fuel and delivering to owners, what should have been our gain had been forced out of our hands by these officers. And this happens here every day.”
They also accused their union executives of failing to fight for them.
They appealed to the Acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and President Muhammadu Buhari to save them from what they called ‘vicious extortionists’ on the roads of Osun.