Olukayode Egbetokun, the Acting Inspector-General of Police, speaking on the issue of inappropriate behaviours of police officers and disruption of the flow of traffic through indiscriminate checkpoints, reiterated that the Nigerian Police officers will not leave their stands. He stated that effective monitoring of contemporary Nigerian society and visibility policing are the impacts of checkpoints. As a result of this, the X-Squad operatives and Monitoring Unit have been deployed by Egbetokun, in partnership with supervisory senior officers, to organize a complete evaluation of major checkpoints along the country’s highways.
The Police Act empowered the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to ensure maintenance of public order and public safety whenever necessary to contemporary Nigerian society. The Act also empowered the Inspector-General of Police to enact rules and regulations that will enhance the functionality of the force. For instance, deterring criminals from participating in criminal acts is one of the various duties of the force. Also, psychological morale to all drivers plying in crime-prone areas is another significance of the police officers at checkpoints.
Abuse of fundamental human rights by officers.
Police checkpoints aid the regulation of traffic movement, ensuring that all motorists obey traffic regulations. More so, these stands establish thorough monitoring and regulation of movement around strategic locations, close to Nigerian borders, on goods and people to prevent bandits and terrorists from unlawfully migrating through the borders to Nigeria; ensuring obedience to the immigration laws. They also ensure prevention of diseases from having massive impact on the country, such as natural disasters, health emergencies, and COVID-19 disease outbreaks, by controlling human movement.
Community police checkpoints also work effectively in kidnapping-infested areas and crime-prone communities as they promote engagement between the community and law enforcement officers to build trust and establish positive interactions between citizens and the police. However, citizens have expressed the illegal abuse of fundamental human rights by police officers in their statutory duties. Some of these unlawful acts include solitary confinement, extrajudicial killings, torture, false imprisonment, intimidation, extortion, harassment, unlawful arrests, and many more. These unconstitutional acts are different forms of degrading treatment and is prohibited in the constitution.
Authorities should prohibit harassment and extortion.
These accusations are reflections of the anachronistic colonial past of the Police Force, where it was established as a tool for victimization, oppression, and repression of citizens who viewed the force as their enemies. The most common unlawful acts of officers at the checkpoints are extortion of money from Innocent drivers, and abuse of power. Similarly, these unlawful acts are done by reckless police officers who use broken wood and wedges to disrupt the width of the expressways, only to extort innocent drivers queuing at the checkpoints. This act has caused terrible traffic jams on the expressways.
Furthermore, unlawful violence and excessive force without proper cause are used by police officers to force the drivers to comply with their demands. Hence, the result of this act can lead to the death of the drivers and passengers, or cause serious harm to pedestrians around the checkpoints. Also, intimidation and harassment of people at the checkpoints to know whether or not they belong to a bad group, for instance “Yahoo boys”, is common. This calls for the attention of the authorities to prohibit and evaluate all harassment and extortion from officers at checkpoints.
Transparency must be exhibited by law enforcement agencies.
There are excessive checkpoints at the expressways, hence, there should be a reduction. For example, there are about 60 of them between the Lagos-Onitsha Expressway which causes hectic traffic jams. This situation impedes quick and stress-free traveling from the Eastern part of the country, leading to traumatic experience for all travellers and motorists. The Federal Government is implored to stop the nuisance at these stands. Also, all citizens, individuals and motorists, deserve respect and dignity while on the road. It is also important that reasonableness, accountability, and transparency must be exhibited by law enforcement agencies and police at all checkpoints.
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