- The menace of multiple checkpoints along the Lagos-Seme border route has continued to be a source of pain to motorists who ply the road
- So far, there are not less than 47 checkpoints on different spots of the Mile2-Badagry expressway
- The checkpoints are owned by officers of the police, customs, immigration, FRSC and the military
Due to the inability of the Nigerian port system to house the massive imports through the country’s waters, leading to diversion of cargoes to nearby nations, the land border route to Lagos end of the Nigerian market now has a lot of checkpoints owned by security agencies.
The number of checkpoints along the Seme-Mile2 expressway and the Lagos Badagry road in the state have increased with a gradual return of more security agencies that did not have checkpoints on the route earlier, Vanguard reports.
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Army have a lot of their officers along the expressway.
The state of things now is also undermining the initial position of the NCS leadership which had largely reduced its presence at the border routes.
There were over 30 checkpoints mounted by the customs before the directive of the comptroller general of customs, Hameed Ali (rtd) that all checkpoints be dismantled except the three approved ones at Gbaji, Agbara and the last between Badagry and Mowo.
A former customs area controller at Seme had ordered the dismantling of all the checkpoints in compliance with Ali’s directive but newsmen gathered that the checkpoints began to resurface just after his transfer.
Most senior customs officers who spoke with journalists said all checkpoints have been banned and only patrols are allowed but they wondered if the patrol teams are the ones now mounting permanent checkpoints. Before Ali’s directive, the police mounted several checkpoints but the immigration had none at all until the Ebola epidemic.
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), had no stationary checkpoint then but maintained a mobile stop-and-check while that of soldier only started surfacing soon after the NCS directives and the Army officers at these checkpoints do not wear uniforms.
Reports indicate that NIS that is supposed to be stationed at the border only, now has about five checkpoints from Agbara to Seme and about seven on the return route.
The NPF have about 10 on the way to Seme and about 15 on the return journey. The Army mounts its five checkpoints in the evenings on the return trip to Lagos at Odofa bus stop, Luri bus stop, Oko-Afo bus stop and two more between Badagry and Oko-Afo bus stop.
With reference to the customs, there are no checkpoints from Agbara to Seme but on the return journey, there are three before getting to Gbaji and another five before Agbara, amounting to eight, contrary to the three ordered by Ali.
The checkpoints by the customs are manned by different units of the service; including the Seme border command, comptroller general’s strike force, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) and others. Gbaji checkpoint has become so notorious that motorists spend between 30 minutes to one hour to do less than five kilometre distance.
The police and immigration have Seme commands and border patrols respectively at Seme. All military and paramilitary agencies that were not present on the route before are now maintaining checkpoints on the route. In addition, amongst agencies, there is the FRSC, that collects N200 from each vehicle using a camp boy (civilian fronts) as collectors.
The FRSC has two shifts, morning and evening and drivers must pay the fare or get held for refusing to cooperate. There is also National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NAFDAC), quarantine service and some other uniformed agencies.
The Nigeria Civil Defence Corp (NCDC) is now positioning itself at the opposite side when going to Seme. They were not on the route before now. In addition to the governmental agencies another new development is the presence of large numbers of community youths mounting a checkpoint just before Gbaji where they also extort money from traders and motorists.
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The controller of Seme command of the NIS, Dominic Asogwa, confirmed that he has received many complaints about the issue of multiple checkpoints and a task force has been constituted to check it.
Informed of the involvement of his officers in the menace, Asogwa said: “Do you have the name of any officer? Get me the name of any officer.” It was discovered that the officers do not have their names on their tags.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that not less than 30 multiple checkpoints on the Mile 2 - Badagry expressway had continued to affect the growth of tourism in the Badagry area of Lagos state.
Olusegun Onilude, the chairman of Badagry local government area of Lagos state, disclosed this on Tuesday, March 13.
He spoke on the sideline of the Badagry tourism stakeholders’ forum held at the Hunwaji apartment.
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