Revenue agents of the various state governments in Nigeria, as well as those working for road transport unions, labour and trade related unions, have been banned from mounting any form of road blocks on the highways by the inspector-general of police, Ibrahim Idris.
The order banning the road blocks which the IG described as illegal, took effect from last Tuesday, April 17, with the police IG deploying his special X-Squad teams across the country to enforce the ban which covers all forms of illegal blockage of highways and other roads created by unlawful revenue/tax collectors which inhibit vehicular movement and smooth passage of passengers.
The X-Squad were detailed to arrest, investigate and prosecute defaulters of the order, with the IG stating that such illegal road blocks amounted to taking the law into their hands by perpetrators.
He also noted that such actions had often been exploited by criminal elements to rob and kill travellers and other road users.
We want to align ourselves with the views of the inspector-general of police on the consequences of such illegal blockages across the country. Indeed, such have been exploited by touts to make life miserable for road users, while criminal elements have also keyed in on that.
However, we wish to also quickly point out that the police themselves have not fared better on the issue of constituting nuisance on the highways. Indeed, despite the previous orders by different police bosses against setting up road blocks on the highways by the police, such orders had either been flouted or been cleverly manipulated. In this case, the police come out on the middle of the road to stop vehicles for flimsy reasons, just to have an opportunity of extorting money from road users. The direct result is that traffic gam develop, situations that had often led to fatal accidents when heavy duty vehicles smash into the vehicles stopped by the police.
Modern policing does not consist in creating traffic chaos on the roads by the police simply because they are checking vehicles and their owners or drivers. The police must not come out to stop vehicles. They can still do their work by parking by the road side and mounting surveillance and taking prompt action once anything untoward happens. That is why some state governments gave them fast cars and speed bikes. But because they want to stuff their pockets with money extorted from hapless road users, they come out to stop vehicles, thereby causing the very problems the IG is seeking to avert. Is this not preposterous?
When there is hardly any difference between the actions of the police and the touts who collect revenue on the roads, can the police have any moral right to go after those who behave same way as they the police do?
This is why we are calling on the police to lead by example so that enforcement of orders by them will be made very easy. You cannot be pointing accusing fingers at others when you are no better than those you accuse. The change that is touted by the powers that be in the country today, should indeed, start with the police.