The Senate has directed Kayode Egbetokun, the acting inspector-general of police (IGP), to end forthwith, extortion, intimidation, and harassment of motorists and commuters by policemen on highways.
The Senate resolution was sequel to a motion sponsored by Onyekachi Peter (APC-Ebonyi) on Tuesday on the ‘urgent need to halt extortion, intimidation, and harassment of motorists and commuters by the police on public roads.’
Peter in his lead debate, argued that the continuous intimidation, harassment, and torture that ordinary Nigerians experienced at the hands of security agents needed urgent action.
He reminded that Section 49(1) of the Police Act, 2020, empowers the police to conduct stop and search operations while sub-section two empowers them to search and detain any person or vehicle only where reasonable grounds for suspicion are established.
The lawmaker said one of the primary functions of the police personnel was to among other things facilitate the free passage and movement on highways.
He decried, however, that policemen who have the primary duty to facilitate free passage and movement of commuters and motorists on public roads have taken undue advantage by resorting to extortion, intimidation and harassment of motorists.
Contributing, Barau Jubril, Senate deputy president, called for an investigation into the dehumanisation of Nigerians on the highways.
David Jimkuta (APC-Taraba) said the operation of some police personnel on the highways was barbaric and called for the composition of a panel of enquiry on the recent killing of a commuter by a policeman on the highway, with severe disciplinary measures for the culprit. He also urged the Senate not to allow the issue to be swept under the carpet.
Victor Umeh (LP- Anambra) stressed the need to focus more on the punishment of officers involved in dehumanisation of commuters on the highways. He suggested the outright dismissal of such officers.
Elisa Abbo (APC-Adamawa) said extortion of commuters on public roads was not only limited to the police but other security agencies, saying there was an urgent need for the Nigeria Police Force in particular to reform itself.
Also, Enyinnaya Abaribe (LP- Abia) decried the constant dehumanisation of Nigerians by police personnel at the various checkpoints in the South-East. He said Nigerians, including pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and the sick, among other vulnerable persons, were often subjected to come down and walk a distance even in the rain by police personnel.
After deliberations, the Senate in its resolution called for the training and retraining of police personnel to ensure civility in the discharge of their functions to Nigerians.