The Borno State Governor, Professor Baba Gana Umara Zulum has accused the military and police for collecting bribes of 500 and 1,000 Naira from travellers who do not have the National Identity cards.
The Governor made the accusation on Monday afternoon while he visited the Maiduguri- Damaturu highway where 1000 travellers were stranded because security operatives manning the highway locked it down.
The highway is relatively the safest access in and out of Maiduguri despite suffering from Boko Haram attacks recently.
At the check point stationed near the Borno State University, the Governor met hundreds of vehicles queued up on both the sides of the lanes.
“This is not acceptable” Zulum said speaking on top of his voice. “How can you subject people to this kind of torture all in the name of National Identity cards? And you are all here collecting 500 to 1000 Naira from poor travellers who don’t have the National Identity card.” When a soldier tries to offer some explanation, Zulum said, “No this is not right. “The Federal government has not created an enabling environment for our people to get their I D cards and you are here collecting the sum of 500-1000 Naira as a fine for not having what the Federal government has not provided for all.”
The Governor said, he has received several reports about the alleged extortion at the Maiduguri check point.
Zulum then directed his aides to call the Theater Commander of the War against Boko Haram, General Olusegun Adeniyi.
On phone, the Governor was heard saying, “Theatre Commander where are you?… Right now I’m at the near state university and we have thousands of people stranded and your officers are here collecting money from them because they don’t have I D cards. Why?”
The Governor directed the security operatives at the gate to open the gates on both sides to allow all travellers to move. Some of the passengers who spoke to journalists explained that, they have been held at the gate for several hours without any explanation.
“I left Damaturu since 9am and l arrived here at about 11am, but here I am being held till 3pm”said a bus driver who identified himself as Isa Adamu.
A woman traveling from Bauchi to Maiduguri said, “I was asked to give 500 naira because I don’t have I D card, but I had nothing to give because we passed the night in Damaturu yesterday, because the soldiers said it was late to proceed at about 5pm. And I spent all what I had with me.”
When the Theatre Commander arrived at the scene and explained that the massive traffic hold up was not caused by soldiers at the check point.
According to him, the hold up was, “because of an attack that happened earlier in the day.” He said, he would investigate the accusation to find out and if it was true.
Governor Zulum insisted that it was true, “I saw them with my eyes, I spoke with people that were asked to give money!”
The exchange between the Governor and the Army General deteriorated as both men argued over other security matters.
The Governor left the place in anger for Jakana, a village 45 km from where Boko Haram attacked on Saturday.
“You must know that the government and people of Borno state are behind you and your men, but you must call your Soldiers to order, you must check their excesses,” Zulum said.