A Nigerian man identified on Twitter as @Freezle has bewailed the unfair treatment civilians in the country are subjected to by military officers at checkpoint.
Sharing his experience, the embittered man said the military officers forcefully cut his hair at a checkpoint in Kaduna after they saw his hairstyle during his journey from Kaduna to Jos with his friends.
He quizzed if there are still rights in Nigeria.
“DO WE STILL HAVE RIGHTS IN NIGERIA?
I have always been a patriotic Nigerian in speech and in action. But today I experienced the most embarrassing and humiliating thing in my life. I have heard this happen to people but it became real to me today. I, @pdshugar & @Kuturanki where coming to Jos from #kaduna, we’ve passed serval checking points but on arriving a checkpoint at “KURMI IDON” a military man asked us all to come down, he told all my friends to take off their caps and I was the only one with much hair. so he insulted me and called me Irresponsible because I was not on low cut.
Comparing me with my friends. He went further to say I should go to a nearby barbing saloon to cut my hair if not he won’t let us go, which I wasn’t ready to do. So he asked his other colleague to cut my hair with scissors, I pulled back, immediately, the other military guy cocked his gun to shoot me, and the other attempted to hit me with the head of his rifle. so i stood and the guy put the scissors into my hair.”
Checkpoint, by ordinary meaning of the phrase, simply is ‘‘a place where traffic is stopped so that it can be checked’’ for any act of illegality.
Of course, it is used in other lands within and at the borders. Alas, like many other things that are borrowed from other jurisdictions, some crooked –minded Nigerians have devised a way of bastardising a sound idea and a good process to enable them derive personal benefit. Indeed, with the aid of modern technology, human factor in checking people and vehicles for illegal items has reduced. But those who would gain from not adopting this method will not let it happen. A journey that should take a few hours ‘costs’ hapless travellers twice or even thrice precious time. The received opinion is that checkpoints have been turned into ‘‘toll gates’’ and ‘‘collecting centres.’’
The menace of extortionate security men at checkpoints is nationwide. Countless times, literally, police chiefs have directed their officers and men to desist from mounting checkpoints unless they are approved for specific reason. Successive IGPs have had to order their men off the road because they do not do what they ought to by law. Besides, they tend to go beyond their briefs. Policemen on legal checkpoints have been repeatedly told that they have no business checking the documents of vehicles, unless a particular vehicle is reported missing. They hardly comply with this simple order from ‘above’.
In late September 2017, the then IGP Ibrahim Idris ordered that checkpoints be dismantled ‘‘to enable ease of business in Nigeria, safeguard and guarantee free passage of goods and travellers throughout the country. ’’ Indeed, according to the police spokesperson, Moshood Jimoh, ‘‘special X-squad teams of the force have been deployed throughout the country with strict instructions to arrest, investigate and discipline police personnel violating the IGP directive.’’ Mohammed Adamu had, in December 2019, directed that ‘‘only checkpoints and nipping points that are operationally expedient for crime prevention and other forms of key duties’’ should be allowed on the roads.
Adamu went further to specifically address the heart of the problem about checkpoints. He admonished that ‘police officers posted on checkpoint duties are expected to eschew corruption …be firm…courteous and polite to citizens.’’ That was two years ago. If anything changed, the Cultural Credibility Development Initiative, the Ohaneze Ndigbo leader and the House of Representatives would have no cause to lament.