COVID-19: Extortion by security operatives puts Rivers in danger

COVID-19: Extortion by security operatives puts Rivers in danger

Thursday, April 16, 2020 10:06 pm

CP Mustapha Dandaura, speaking to Journalists after addressing security agencies at the Rivers and Abia State border.

CP Mustapha Dandaura, Garrison Commander storm borders to warn officers and men against extortion
…We pay between N80,000 and N100,000 per truck to security agencies to enter Rivers–Arewa Spokesman
… Threatens to stop supply of food, livestocks etc to Rivers if extortion continues.
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Rivers Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura Thursday paid an unscheduled visit to the boundaries of the state with Abia State following reports that his officers and other security operatives are engaging in massive extortion of motorists carrying passengers and foodstuffs at the  at the different location.
Speaking during the visit, the Commissioner of Police warned that any security operative found to be engaging in any unprofessional conduct will be dealt with, while vowing that he put an end to the complaints of extortion by motorists.

The Police Commissioner also revealed that a monitoring unit has been constituted to apprehend  any officer caught taking advantage of the restriction of movement for self enrichment.
Dandaura who was accompanied to the borders by the Garrison Commander of Nigeria Army  and other top police officers spoke to journalists after addressing the officers at Rivers and Abia State border.
“We have come here (border) to give a stern warning to officers and men that from today any person caught in an unprofessional conduct will be dealt with. No vehicle that does not fall into the waiver bracket should be allowed in or out the state.
“To show the seriousness of the offence is the reason why I came along with other Garrison Commanders. From now, we are are setting up a monitoring team to checkmate any unprofessional activities of our men here,” Dandaura said.

Stranded traders at the boundary

However, this magazine learnt that trucks loaded with livestock and foodstuffs meant for Rivers State have been stranded at the boundary due to alleged massive extortion from security agencies who are demanding between N80,000 and N100,000 per vehicle to allow them proceed.

Indeed, due to the extortion ring, the spokesman for  members of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, in Rivers, Babajiya Tanko, had alerted  Governor Nyesom Wike that interstate foodstuff vendors from the Northern part of the country are finding it difficult to come into the state and maybe forced to stop bringing in foodstuffs into the state.
“We have reports that the security agencies and people suspected to be working for the state government collaborate to charge between N80,000 to N100,000 per trailer load of foodstuffs or livestock. They are complaining that after parting with huge sums at the borders, they will not be able to make profit and they may be forced to stop bringing different food items because the suffering is too much.”
Babajiya Tanko called for the intervention of Governor Wike to stave off the any impending food scarcity in state.
He also enjoined the Governor to set up a monitoring Task Force to check the excesses of security agencies to avert the threat by interstate  food vendors.
In a report published by its Chairman, Karl Chinedu Uchegbu, titled “Extortion at The state Boundaries  and Sabotage of Government Restriction on Interstate travel” on Wednesday, the Covid19 Situation Room of Coalition of Civil Rights Activists in Rivers State said security personnel have continue to exploit the lockdown and freeze on interstate travel to extort citizens.
“In spite of stated objectives of the travel which is to limit movement of people from state, passengers travel out of and into Rivers state on a daily basis.
The report also stated that at the Imo River boundary between Rivers and Abia states, passengers pay N500 each to be allowed into the state. The driver and his conductor pay N2000. The passengers cross over the bridge on foot, while the vehicle drives across empty. Once on the Rivers side of the boundary, the passengers will go back into the vehicle and the journey will continue.
Trucks pay N10,000 to be allowed entry, while cars pay N3000 -5000. Bikes (Okada) pay N700-N1000.
Nobody cares about the implication allowing people travel freely across state boundaries even as the Coronavirus continues to rampage.
“Commercial buses leaving the state for other parts of the country pass through Etche and onward to Imo state. Security personnel at the boundary charge N6000 per bus. This same routine is replicated at the Mbiama boundary between Rivers and Bayelsa.”
Investigations by our correspondent showed that the determined efforts by Governor Wike to stem the spread of Coronavirus in state may be thwarted by compromised security  agencies who allow unhindered movements in and out of state without necessary testing their health status.

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