“The staggering sum of N306b or $1b (at official exchange rate of about N306 per US$) had been paid at gun point in the past 50 months or between August 2015 and Oct 2019 by citizens of Southeast and South-south or old Eastern Nigeria including Delta and Edo States to estimated 600 military and 6,300 police road blocks in the two regions”
The Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, said today in a 4-page Executive Summary of its latest report.The Report and its Executive Summary was signed by Barristers Chidimma Undegbunam,Chinwe Umeche, Uju Igboeli and Ndidiamaka Bernard; and Emeka Umeagbalasi (a Criminologist & Graduate of Security Studies)-all principal officers of Intersociety.
The extra increase or additional N206b from our Dec 2018 research figure of N100b was asa result of extension of our field trip research to the South-south or Niger Delta Region where additional 400 military and 3000 police roadblocks were discovered and examined. This is in addition to further increase of military road blocks in the Southeast from 150 and police roadblocks from 3000, as at Dec2018, to 200 and 3,300 respectively. The research, therefore, covered the eleven States of Edo, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, Anambra,Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo, covering August 2015 to Oct 2019 or total of 50 months. In our Dec 2018 report, only the five Southeast States of Anambra, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo were covered and examined.
While the 6,300 police roadblocks illicitly collected N250b from Easterners, the 600 military roadblocks criminally took home N56b. The report further showed that average of N6.4b was illicitly collected monthly, out of the N306b and N76b yearly in the said past four years and two months. The N250b illicitly took bythe Police constitutes over 80% of the annual budget of the Force, which is N300b or over 20% annually in the past four years at annual average of N61.5b.The forceful payments and their illicit collection took place between August 2015 and Oct 2019 at various roadblocks manned by not less than 34,000 armed personnel of the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force and Nigeria Police Force stationed on old Eastern Roads and other public arenas in the two regions.
The special report was built on our 2018 report which concentrated on Southeast. The latest referenced report is strictly concentrated on military and police roadblock extortion in the Southeast and the South-south and did not include police, military and other security custody based extortionist practices including “bail fees” and commercialization of criminal investigations. The report also did not include aviation (airport’s arrival and departure wings), waterway, railway and border extortionist practices by concerned security personnel as well as roadway extortion by paramilitaries such as Federal Road Safety Corps, National DrugLaw Enforcement Agency, Immigration and Customs Services and the Nigeria Security & Civil Defense Corps, etc.
Reasons For This Special Research Report
This special report further exposes the real motives behind incessancy of military build-upand police siege in the two regions. It will be recalled that August 2015marked the beginning of militarization and police siege of Southeast andSouth-south regions. This took place barely three months after Mr. Mohammad Buhari, a retired army major general was sworn in as Nigeria’s sixth electiveor civilian president on 29th May 2015. The report is also inresponse to the proposed military operations in Eastern Nigeria, code named:“Operation Python Dance IV” and “Operation Crocodile Smile IV”, scheduled for 1stNov to Christmas Eve of Dec 2019 as well as planned flooding of the two regions particularly the Southeast with alleged greater number of “Federal Road Toll gates”. This is even as it is foundthat 70% of all Federal Roads in Eastern Nigeria are a death trap.
Militarization & Roadway Robbing Of Citizens Of Eastern Nigeria Must End
The report restates the strong opposition by Intersocietyto (a) militarization and police siege in Southeast and South-south, (b) targeted disruption through needless military operations (python dance and crocodile smile) and police siege, of socio-economic activities of the citizensof the two regions particularly disruption of their peaceful movements during Christmas and New Year festivities and deliberate entrapment on their fundamental rights to freedom of movement and religion, (c) seeming execution of ethnic and religious agenda in the two regions including deliberate gross lopsidedness in the location, composition, manning and management of key military and policing formations in the two regions, (d) brutal economic exploitation of the two regions and their peace loving and industrious people through series of unjustifiable and unwarranted war-like military and “internal security operations” and their attendant official roadway robberies and other corrupt practices.
Others are:(e) needless, militant and provocative embarkation of the so called “ArmyPython Dance IV” and “Crocodile Smile IV” in the two regions and (f) further threats to the lives and properties of the People of the two regions and militarization and radicalization of their psyches with “gun-culture mentalities, (g) planned flooding of the two regions with alleged greater number of Federal Tollgates and (g) acute neglect of the federal road, railway and aviation facilities in the two regions particularly the fact that 70% of the federal roads in the two regions are in deplorable, if not in acute deplorable state. Intersociety further seeksfor total accountability for the N306b criminally collected at gun point from the peace loving and defenseless citizens of the Southeast and the South-south and their collectors or perpetrators as well as an end to the age long systematic and well oiled criminal practices
How We Came About The N306B Roadblock TotalExtortion Figure
Police Roadblocks In The Southeast: From Anambra State where N26.1b was illicitly collected from 250 roadblocks (August 2015-August 2016), 500 (August 2016-August 2017) and 800 (August 2017-Dec 2018), N7.7b, at average of N40,000 per roadblock daily was added from 800 roadblocks found between Jan and Oct 2019; totaling N33.8b in 50months. Abia State recorded N22b from 200, 400 and 700 roadblocks under thesame period at same N40,000 per roadblock daily, in addition to N7.7b from 800 roadblocks found between Jan and Oct 2019; totaling N29.7b. Under the sameperiod, Imo, at average of N30, 000 per roadblock daily, recorded N16b while Enugu and Ebonyi, at N25, 000 per roadblock daily, recorded N10.5b each; bringing the grand total to N99.6b. Extra “dark figure” of N2.6b was added, landing the total to N102.6b for the Southeast in 50 months.
Police Roadblocks In The South-south: Delta State, at average of N40, 000 per roadblock daily for 450 police roadblocks found in the State between August and Dec 2018 or in forty months, N21.6b was illicitly collected and between Jan and Oct 2019 (past ten months), at sameN40, 000 for each of the 600 police roadblocks found in the State, N7.2b was added, bringing the total to N28.8b. In Edo State, same N28.8b was illicitly collected in the same period as well as in Rivers and Cross River States withN28.8b each. The above named States possess high number of extortionist item sincluding high volume of trade and road transport commercial activities as wellas movements of oil and gas products and associated roadblock extortion. Theyare more of ‘blue-collar’ than ‘white-collar’.
But in AkwaIbom and Bayelsa States, it was N30,000 for each of 350 projected police roadblocks in each of the two States, between August 2015 and Oct 2018; totaling N12.6b each. Between Jan and Oct 2019, additional N3.6b was illicitly collected by each of the 400 roadblocks mounted in the two States; totaling N16.2b each (N32.4b for the two States). The two States have lower extortionist items and bear semblance of relatively ‘white-collar’ status. In summation,therefore, it is likely correct to say that the projected 3000 police roadblocks in the South-south had illicitly collected total of N147.6b in the past 50 months or four years and two months. When this is added to N102.6b illicitly collected by 3,300 police roadblocks in the Southeast, the two totalscome to N250b.
600 Military Roadblocks InSoutheast & South-south Regions: The flatbenchmark of N60, 000 per military roadblock daily was used. The N60, 000illicit military toll benchmark used is strictly conservative and may likelyraise to as much as N100, 000 per military roadblock daily which was why weadded extra N7.5b as “dark figure” or a must include sum representing‘untracked extortion”.
In our Dec2018 field research and report during which we found 150 military roadblocks inthe Southeast, average criminal toll benchmark of N50,000 per roadblock dailywas used and in the end, we found that the 150 military roadblocks thenillicitly collected N7.5m daily, N225m monthly and N9b in 40 months or fromAugust 2015 to Dec 2018. Since Jan to Oct 2019 (past ten months), the 200military roadblocks found in the region must, therefore, have illicitlycollected additional N3.6b at N60,000 basic per roadblock daily; bringing thetotal to N12.6b as having been illicitly collected in 50 months or since August2015. The figure of 600 military roadblocks was also used across board in thecalculations.
That is tosay that in the past fifty months or between August 2015 and Oct 2019, at flatbenchmark of N60, 000 per military roadblock daily, the 600 military roadblocksfound in Southeast and South-south illicitly collected N36m per day, N1.08b permonth and N48.6b in 50 months of August 2015 to Oct 2019. This further meansthat the 400 military roadblocks found in the South-south criminally becamericher with total sum of N36b, collected between August 2015 and Oct 2019, atsingle sum of N60, 000 and total sum of N24m per roadblock daily and N720m permonth. When added to N250b illicitly collected by the 6,300 police roadblocksin the two regions, the grand total comes to N306b or about $1b (using theofficial exchange rate of about N306 per US$).
Extortion, Ethnic & Religious Soldiering & Policing Fuel Extra Judicial Killings In Eastern Nigeria
The combinedeffects of roadblock extortion, ethnic and religious soldiering and policingare also responsible for high rate of extra judicial killings, unlawful andextra legal executions, indiscriminate arrests, long captivity without trial,torture and disappearances. Cases of extra judicial killings and unlawful orextra legal executions are very high in the Southeast and the South-southparticularly since August 2015. Multiple hundreds have fallen victims. Multiplehundreds have also been shot at close range, lacerated and incapacitated.Hundreds have disappeared without traces till date. Those tortured openly or inpolice and military custodies are in thousands; likewise those falling victimto indiscriminate arrests and long captivity without trial including victims oflate night and leisure arena arrests.
As a matterof grounded statistics, dozens are killed at police and military roadblocks onmonthly, if not weekly basis in Eastern Nigeria and thousands torturedincluding being inflicted with fragmented body wounds. Their killings ortorture are strongly linked to collection at gunpoint of illicit roadblocktolls and refusal, inability or disagreements associated with them. In the areaof ethnic and religious soldiering and policing, multiple hundreds have beenshot and killed and multiple hundreds shot, lacerated and incapacitated.Hundreds have also been abducted and disappeared without traces till date. Thevictims include not less than 480 killed in Eastern Nigeria by the military andpolice between August 2015 and Sept 2017 and over 500 others shot, laceratedand incapacitated. Multiple hundreds have been unlawfully arrested and held inlong captivity amidst torture, without trial. Most, if not all victims of theabove highlighted crimes against humanity are unarmed and defenseless citizensof the South-south and the Southeast.
Moderntechniques in social research were applied in the course of this research. Theyinclude sampling techniques such as random sampling, field trips, monitoringand evaluation. Media reports (literature review) and series of interviews withthe victim population (i.e. private car owners and commercial transportersincluding drivers of long lorries, tippers, SHUTTLE and L-300 buses as well astricycle and motorcycle riders, passengers and roadway property owners andother road users) were also used. In modern social research, too, rooms areallowed for approximations, estimations and projections. These were appliedwhere necessary in the course of this special research report.
Above all, Intersociety has also made a nameespecially in the monitoring and report of police and military roadblock andother forms of roadway extortion in Nigeria particularly in the Southeast. Thisfeat even predates our organization and had been on since early 2000s whenChair of Board of Intersociety, EmekaUmeagbalasi, now a Criminologist and Graduate of Security Studies with a postgraduate specialty in Peace Studies & Conflict Resolution, held sway asAnambra State Chairman of the Civil Liberties Organization.
Umeagbalasialso earned a field experience when he assisted a foremost US based HumanRights group, the Human Rights Watchwhen it conducted its own field survey on “Police Corruption & Human RightsViolations in Nigeria” in mid 2010,leading to its international report of 17th August 2010. That is tosay that Emeka Umeagbalasi and Intersocietyhave monitored patterns and trends of military and police roadblock andother roadway extortion since 2010.
Consequently,copies of the special report have been sent for follow-up actions to the SecGen of Amnesty Int’l, UK and the group’s Country Director in Nigeria and theExecutive Director of Human Rights Watch, USA. Other recipients are ProfAnthony Ejiofor, President of World Igbo Congress, USA, Prof Justin Akujieze,President of Ekwenche Research Organization, USA, Prof Uzodimma Nwala,President of Ala-Igbo Dev Foundation, Enugu, Barr John Nnia Nwodo, President-Genof Oha-Na-Eze Ndigbo, Enugu; and Senate Minority Leader, Barr Enyinnaya Abaribe.
The rest areDr Mrs. Joe-Okei Odumakin, founder, Women Arise, Nigeria and blossom friend of Intersociety, Mr. Peter Obi, former Govof Anambra State, Mr. Oseloka Obaze, renowned diplomat and former SSG, AnambraState., Mr. Geoffrey Onyema, Minister of Foreign Affairs & (nominal)member, Nigeria’s National Security Council, Mr. Emeka Diwe, President,Association of Southeast Town Unions, Governor Dave Umahi, Gov of Ebonyi State& Chairman of the Southeast Govs Forum and GovernorSeriake Henry Dickson, Gov of Bayelsa State & Chairman,South-south Govs Forum. Relevant rights and media bodies were also copied fortheir advocacy notice and further actions. The latestreport, therefore, followed recent field trips and investigations in theEastern Nigeria conducted by Emeka Umeagbalasi, assisted by some researchassistants led by Comrade Samuel Kamanyaoku.