Police warn against extortion of passengers in Adamawa



 Police in Adamawa on Monday in Yola warned personnel against mounting illegal checkpoints and extortion of travellers on major roads.

Police spokesman in the state, DSP Sulaiman Nguroje, gave the warning when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

His warning came in reaction to allegations of extortion of passengers by security operatives on Yola-Gombe Road made by the Adamawa chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers.

The union accused security operatives of mounting illegal checkpoints and extortion of passengers on the road.

Its Chairman, Alhaji Umaru Dan-Malam, said the union had lodged formal complaints to the authorities to no avail.

“Passengers travelling on Yola-Gombe Road, especially from Mbalang to Kwanar Mai Saje, are subjected to extortion by security operatives.

“Our drivers are not spared from different types of extortions by the security operatives on the Yola-Gombe Highway.

“The Union has filed several complaints to the authorities concerned but still there is no result,’’ he said.

He accused the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) for starting the extortion by demanding that travellers showed their National Identity Cards.

He said that sequel to the scrapping of SARS, other security agencies such as Security Joint Taskforce comprising soldiers; police and other security agents continued the extortion.

“Our members from other states are also complaining about the on-going operation show your ID card being conducted by joint security operatives on Yola-Gombe Highway.

“Drivers from Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja and other parts of the country always complained that it was only on Adamawa-Gombe border that security checkpoints requested passengers to show their National Identity Cards,’’ he charged.

Alhaji Dan-Malam urged the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, and security organisations to look into the matter and address it.

Reacting to the allegation, DSP Nguroje told NAN that police did not authorise any division or unit to mount road blocks on highways in Adamawa.

“There is no order from the Command directing police personnel to mount road blocks on highways and verify passengers’ National Identity Cards,’’ he said.

He said that the Command would investigate the matter, warning that erring personnel would be dealt with according to the law.

He urged drivers and passengers to report such actions to the Command for appropriate actions.

Similarly, Mr Yauba Mohammed, Information Officer, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in Adamawa, said the service had not deployed personnel on Yola-Gombe Road in the past three years.

Mohammed said that its personnel were not engaged in patrol or manning of checkpoints.

“Our personnel are no longer on patrol or manning checkpoints in the past three years.

“The Command is concerned about the extortion of passengers.

“NIS did not direct any officer or personnel to mount checkpoints and ask for National ID Cards of passengers,’’ Mohammed said.

Some passengers equally decried the extortion of passengers by security operatives.

Recounting their ordeals, Yusuf Jidda and Isyaku Adamu, said security personnel collected between N2,500 and N5,000 from passengers for their inability to produce National ID cards when requested at the checkpoints.

They said that the security men labelled any passenger who did not have National ID as a Cameroonian and forced him or her to pay money.

Jidda, an indigene of Mubi North Local Government Area of Adamawa, said that he boarded a vehicle from Kano to Yola on Oct. 25. and the vehicle was stopped at the Adamawa-Gombe border checkpoint.

“They asked everyone in the vehicle to alight and identify himself and four of us did not have our National ID cards, and they took us to a makeshift zinc room by the roadside.

“Inside the room, we met a security man holding an electrical device; the apparatus discharges electric voltage and he threatened to torture anyone of us with it if he or she refuses to comply with his order.

“The officer shouted on us that we are Cameroonians and not Nigerians and demanded that each of us should pay ₦5,000 as bail money,’’ Jidda said.

“I had only ₦2,500 in my pocket; ₦2,000 was for transport fare from Yola to Mubi and the remaining N500 was for my meal, but the police collected all the money from me.

Adamu, in his own account, said he travelled from Kaduna to Yola, and that security men on the road sought for gratification from passengers without National ID cards.

“Upon arrival at Adamawa-Gombe border security checkpoint, they stopped our vehicle and asked us to present our National Identity Cards.

“Some of us who did not have the card, paid between N1,000 and N2,500.

“At every checking point, they asked for the National ID card and if one does not have it, he or she pays for it,’’ Adamu said. (NAN)