Commercial drivers in Ilaro and its environs have protested the multiplicity of “illegal” checkpoints on Ilaro-Obelle road, alleging that security operatives have created such as avenues to extort money from them.
The transporters took to major streets in Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun State, as they parked their vehicles on the road.
The protest, Wednesday, brought about gridlock in the ancient city as the commercial drivers rained insults on officers of the Nigeria Customs Service and those of the Nigeria Police Force, calling them unprintable names.
One of the drivers, Mr Mukaila Sonekan said the number of police roadblocks along the road, especially on Oja-Odan market days, are 15; Customs have 13 checkpoints; while the Nigerian Army and the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, have one checkpoint each.
“That is a total of 30 checkpoints from Ilaro to Oja-Odan, a border community between Ogun and Benin Republic,”
Commercial drivers reportedly pay between N200 and N500 at each of the checkpoints.
However, the Ilaro branch chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Mr Ibrahim Olaleye assured the protesters that “the Union will look into the matter of Police, Customs, FRSC, and Nigerian
Army extorting N200 or N500 from the drivers per trip.”
Meanwhile, the Spokesperson of the Ogun State Police Command, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi said the Area Commander, Christopher Adeyeri, has calmed the situation such that the road users have now promised to remain law abiding.
According to Abimbola,
“It is true the drivers protested multiple roadblocks along Ilaro-Oja-Odan road.
“They also challenged mounting of excessive checkpoints on the road by Customs as well as exorbitant cost of the unions tickets.
“I can tell you reliably that there is no cause for alarm as the Area Commander is in full control of the situation.”
Debunking the allegations, the Ogun State Customs Command’s spokesperson, Aliu Maiwada said all Customs checkpoints along Ilaro-Obelle road are legally approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
He added that neither market days nor any other factors could increase or decrease the number of the approved checkpoints mounted by Nigeria Customs Service.
“The Service is aware of an alleged protest today that has to do with multiplicity of checkpoints along Ilaro-Obelle road.
“But looking at our checkpoints from Obelle down to Ilaro, they are designated, approved Customs checkpoints at strategic positions which do not increase or decrease on market days or under any circumstances as the checkpoints are at 40km radius from the border.
“However, there’s what we call ‘stop and search’, which could be employed when we receive information on any contraband and once the suspected good is accosted, the team leaves the premises immediately.
“On the issue of extortion, I can say that our men don’t extort, but should any Customs officer be found wanton as we do our findings, necessary sanctions will be served without fear or favor,” Maiwada stated.