On Ijebu Ode-Ibadan expressway, Nigerian police extortion of road users, transporters especially, has become a norm, which has gone on for years without a hope of end in sight.
Unofficial taxes, now pegged at N100, are being forced out of the commercial drivers who frequently ply this road.
Drivers who refuse to pay are at the risk of their vehicles impounded, or in extreme cases, face harassment and brutality.
Traveling through Ogun and Oyo state, through the Maamu border, in an undercover investigation carried out by an Ogunwatch reporter, it was discovered that there exists at least, 7 police blocks and checkpoints between Oke-Eri axis in Ijebu Ode and New garage in Ibadan, Oyo state.
All of these checkpoints also double as tax offices where commercial transactions are carried out between Nigerian Police officers and road transport workers.
Findings by Ogunwatch revealed that Drivers pay this tax to get an identification number with which they would go on with their businesses unchecked, at least for some hours, before the next due time for a “ticket renewal”.
During this trip, it was gathered that the same blood runs in the vein of Police officers mounted on this road, from Ogun to Oyo: the transactions went on the same way and with the same fee.
While it was observed that all these Road blocks were tax offices, from where police officers transact with commercial Drivers, Ogunwatch caught on tape the ones stationed at the immediate border town along that axis, which falls in Oyo state.
Here is the video:
A road transporter in Ago Iwoye, who identified as Idowu told Ogunwatch that the biggest challenge facing them in the course of their profession and finding daily means of survival, is the Police Officers who extort them on the road.
He said, “The police officers often disturb us. They extort us so much. There is no justification for the money as we don’t know what they are doing with it.
“They don’t ask for driver’s license or any thing. We have no idea what the money is meant for. While extorting us, they even compel passengers to drop while they harras them till they extort money from them, calling them ‘Yahoo boys’. Road Safety Officers are not left out.”
When asked about the frequency of the unofficial taxes, Idowu said drivers are forced to pay it about three times a day. He also added that when payment is being made by a driver, the police hand them an identification number, with which they will carry transiently before the quarter of the day when the drivers will be due for another payment.
Another high ranking Transporter who is identified as the chairman of a park at Ago Iwoye, VC, who also spoke to Ogunwatch, said Police officers have become a menace to them.
“Morning and nights, they resume extortion on the roads. From Ago Iwoye to the first roundabout in Ijebu Ode, we encounter nothing less than 4 police blocks, all of which we must pay unless we want to get delayed.”
“After the roundabout, some are even there. When you are returning, the case remains the same. They don’t even want to sight transporters. They charge us N100 which covers the quarter of the day or half sometimes.”
Asked about the consequences of non-payment, VC said The police officers often arrest defaulting drivers, who often end in the station cells.
Ayo, as he identified to our reporter is a transport unionist; he told Ogunwatch that even if a driver stocks his car with guns, as soon as he pays N100 to the officers on the road, he is free.
He further said it was dangerous not to pay the required tax as it might get the vehicle impounded by the police officers.
“If you don’t pay, they will ask you to present the documents of your car, after which they take your car to the station.”
“Meanwhile, when your car gets to the station it costs over N10,000 to get it out and you will be regretting not paying the requested N100.”