Nigeria’s East-bound passengers travelling this December have been warned to take note and prepare to endure heavy security checkpoints mounted along the roads between Lagos and Onitsha as they journey home for Christmas 2019.

Chief Tony Onyima, a veteran journalist who passed through the route on Wednesday, 27 November 2019, reported that he was able to count 75 detachments of security personnel deployed at 60 different points on these routes before he got to Onitsha.

The security stop points are manned by men of the Nigerian Army, Customs Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, and the Nigeria Police (including regular police, mobile, and special armed robbery squads), each spot independently created or jointly managed by the agencies’ personnel, he said.

The account by Chief Onyima, which he shared on his Facebook page, showed a total of nine (9) detachments from the Army, 11 from Customs, six from FRSC, and a lion share of 49 roadblocks mounted by the Police along the routes.

The implication is that travelers on these routes (Lagos – Shagamu, Shagamu – Benin, and Benin – Onitsha) are likely to encounter the Army every 50 kilometers, Customs every 41 kilometers, Road Safety every 75 kilometers and the Police every nine kilometers.

“You can imagine what will happen in the next two weeks when my brothers and sisters begin their Christmas migration,” Chief Onyima lamented.

Analysts said that passengers travelling to Ondo, Edo, and Delta States are equally affected, but that the greater pressure will be on east-bound passengers taking this route who are wont to travel to their villages for the Christmas holidays each year.

In addition, VIP travelers to Enugu and Ebonyi States will experience what the common people go through on these routes as they can no longer fly to their destinations following the closure for repairs of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

A few will, however, elect to overfly the heavy security zone to Asaba and Owerri airports from where they will continue the rest of the journey to their villages.

Nigerians React

On the Facebook Page where Chief Onyima shared the account of his Lagos to Onitsha journey, the following comments by concerned Nigerians were noted:

Areh Sunday This is serious. Militarized route.

Mary Kanu That route is a siege zone.

Primus Igboaka We need these first-hand evidences to decipher the truth from propaganda in making informed criticisms or approval… This is the way to go to sidetrack people playing politics with everything.

Jefferson Uwoghiren The annoying and horrible part, is the fact that the other opposite lane is empty as if criminals don’t head West!

Agbonsuremi Augustine Okhiria This is a bold step. Many who can afford it will never hit the roads. My boss, you forgot to tell us how long the journey took. That’s the fearful part of it; the longer the trip, the bigger the risk.

Emeka Ani ….And yet kidnappers and armed robbers operate freely as if these security posts do not exist.

Dozie Kaidi Obiaku I counted 62 roadblocks on this same route on October 24 this year. Traveling to Eastern Nigeria from Lagos by road at this time is an unmitigated pain which is better avoided where possible. Check out the number of roadblocks on any route in Northern Nigeria and let’s compare notes.

Matthew Ogagavworia It is a sad reminder of our helplessness. The checkpoints or number of begging/extortion points are just too numerous. You can see the next “roadblock” 100-200 metres away. You are subjected to the same checks/tolls to pass freely or be delayed unjustly.

John Ononose Great journalistic work. It would have been very convenient to have taken a flight to your destination, and just rely on “rumors “, but you chose to undergo the rigors, the authentic fact-finding way. Kudos, sir. If our govt officials would toe this line, move around their constituencies, and have first-hand assessment of things playing out, we certainly would have better governance and result-producing policies and actions.

Egbueh Ezeani Thank you for taking time to point out those check points. The check points are targeted against the Igbos. It’s another way of marginalising the South Easterners. Before two weeks the check points will be doubled to frustrate and extort money from those going home for the Christmas. I pity this country called Nigeria

Kene Okafor So sad. The concentration of these agencies says so much: It’s either there’s an inefficiency in the deployment of officers and men by the agencies or the security situation is far worse than we imagine.

Charles Mbachu It’s a terrible experience to travel by road.

Your View?

What do you think of this situation? Drop your comments below.

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