The Attorney General/ Commissioner for Justice, Abia State, Uche Ihediwa, has decried the incessant harassment and exploitation of motorists on Nigeria highways, especially in the South-East region, by the police and other security agencies.
He described such acts as inhuman and urged victims to approach the courts for justice.
Ihediwa made the assertion Wednesday in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State at the one-day sensitisation workshop on human rights and traffic rules for transport unions in the State, organised by Youth and Students Advocacy for Development Initiative (YSAD), a non-governmental organisation.
The workshop is in continuation of its “No dey give, follow traffic rules campaign”, geared towards eradicating extortion and abuse of motorists on Nigeria highways, by security agencies.
Ihediwa, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said that the constitution gives individuals the right to move freely and appealed to security agencies to respect the right of citizens, by working within the confines of the law.
Represented at the workshop by Ngozi Mgbarine, director, Legal Services, Aba office of the Ministry, Ihediwa said, “we witness daily how our rights were infringed on, by those who are paid with taxpayers money”.
He urged motorists to approach the courts to seek redress when their rights are infringed on, noting that judges are paid by the government to address such infractions.
Obinna Nwagbara, executive director, YSAD, explained that the campaign was initiated out of dissatisfaction with the menace of seeing drivers and other road users, openly and brazenly exploited by those whose duty it is to enforce the law and function as ambassadors of order.
According to him, “We could not come to terms with the tragedy of accepting that it is okay for law enforcement officers, paid from the public coffers, to turn around and become extortionists to the very same people, who employed them in the ideal sense of it.
“We rejected this long ago, we reject it today and we shall continue to reject it”, he stated.
He explained that law enforcement officers, whether they are the Police, Army, Navy, Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Vehicle Inspection Officers, or whatever nomenclature they go by, have no business converting their uniforms, vehicles, guns and other work tools into articles of operation.
“We insist that it is unacceptable for those paid to maintain order, guarantee safety of road users, prevent criminality and ensure smooth flow of traffic to turn around and demand bribes from hardworking Nigerians, whether they are commercial drivers or just private individuals, driving their own vehicles should be exploited, harassed or abused for undertaking their legitimate economic activities,” Nwagbara said.
While challenging law enforcement agencies on illegal actions perpetuated by some of their men, he accused motorists of making themselves easy targets for law enforcement agencies, by refusing to obtain the right particulars, driving with expired papers, failure to observe traffic rules, recklessness and ignorance of basic traffic signs on the highway, among others.