Concerns Arise Over Military Checkpoints in Southeast Nigeria: Profiling or Security Measure
In the Southeastern region of Nigeria, concerns are growing over the effectiveness and practicality of military checkpoints that have sprung up across the road networks. While these checkpoints were initially established to enhance security, they are now prompting questions about their true purpose. The unique practice of having passengers disembark from their vehicles at each checkpoint and walk ahead of them has begun to raise eyebrows. Many see it as an inefficient and exhausting process that also has the unintended consequence of profiling and intimidating people.
At these checkpoints, passengers of all ages and genders are asked to exit their vehicles and trek to the other side of the checkpoint while their vehicles queue up to pick them up. Interestingly, despite these measures, neither vehicles nor passengers are thoroughly searched at the checkpoints. Instead, heavily armed soldiers closely monitor the passengers as they walk past.
During peak travel hours, particularly in the morning, these checkpoints become congested with numerous passengers who have disembarked from various vehicles. Buses, which are the primary mode of transportation, discharge passengers who then wait on one side of the checkpoint while their vehicles queue up to pick them up on the other side. In heavy traffic at these checkpoints, some passengers even struggle to identify the specific vehicle they have boarded.
Unsurprisingly, both motorists and travelers are becoming increasingly frustrated with this development. Passengers, in particular, question whether they traverse a war zone, given the unconventional procedures at these checkpoints. One disgruntled passenger aptly commented, “Is this a war zone? It is only in war zones that you can witness this.”
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The inconvenience and inefficiency of this process have left many passengers angry and dissatisfied. Some have even adjusted their travel routines, departing two to three hours earlier than usual to accommodate the additional time spent at these checkpoints.
However, the key question remains: why have these checkpoints adopted such an unusual approach? These checkpoints are part of “Operation Udoka,” a response by the Nigerian Army to address rising insecurity in the South-East region. While the operation aims to improve security and stability, passengers and residents are questioning whether there are more efficient methods to achieve these objectives, as the current approach disrupts daily life and causes frustration.
Moreover, concerns have arisen about alleged extortions from soldiers stationed at these checkpoints. Young men, in particular, claim that soldiers often demand money or search their belongings, causing further tension and discomfort among travelers.
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While the intention behind Operation Udoka may be well-founded, there is growing consensus that alternative, less invasive, and more efficient security measures should be explored. The current approach, characterized by passengers repeatedly disembarking and walking, is burdensome and increasingly viewed as counterproductive. In the quest for enhanced security, striking a balance between safety and convenience is essential to ensure the well-being and satisfaction of both residents and travelers in the South-Eastern region of Nigeria.
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The post Soldiers at Southeast Checkpoints Raise Questions: Are We at War? appeared first on TheTimesOnline.