Ndigbo Unity Forum (NUF) has called on the security operatives in the South East and some parts of South South to stop subjecting the people of the zones to deliberate and unnecessary suffering through the blockade of their major roads and bridges.
The Igbo group which made the call when they addressed newsmen on Tuesday in Enugu state, alleged that the people of the two zones have been losing about N105b per a week, due to the closure of major roads and State boundaries in the zones.
The recent attacks on security agents and their formations have intensified road blocks in the region, as security agencies aim to reclaim public space and suppress secessionist agitations.
Condemning the action, NUF, through its President General, Dede Uzor A Uzor, , gave the Federal Government and the South East Governors, seven days from the date, to dismantle all road blocks on major roads and state boundaries in the region or face the wrath of the people through massive protest in major cities of South East and South South.
He mentioned Onitsha and Asaba end of the Niger Bridge, Mgbidi along Onitsha -Owerri Road, Amansea along Onitsha-Enugu Road, Umuahia, along Onitsha- Porthacourt Road,Owerri -Elele Road among others, as places the operatives set up the road blocks.
He revealed that these operatives keep motorists and commuters for several hours before they extort the drivers especially commercial ones between N1,000 to N5,000 after which they were allowed to pass.
Sometimes, he said, the occupants were forced to come down and walk through the military barricade with their hands raised irrespective of age and sex, an action he said was demeaning and violateson the rights of the people.
Dede Uzor regretted that these road blocks have not in any way, checkmated the activities of unknown gun men they were looking out for neither have they arrested any of them at the road blocks.
He suspected that operatives were sent purposely to cripple the economy of the South East and inflict psychological trauma on the people.
“This is nothing but an extension of marginalisation. It is a plot to sabotage the economy of the South East and South South zones.
“The entire thing shows that we are in a State of emergency” he said.
The NUF boss said President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency, direct the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the Inspector General of Police (IG), to stop the blockade of these major express roads in the East.
The group also called on the Governors especially the South East Governors to rise up to the occasion instead of supporting the Federal Government to continue the suppression of their citizens.
Dede said “this is oppressive and suppressive. It appears to us to be a deliberate ploy to frustrate our people politically and economically.
“How can you explain blocking Niger Bridge as from 5pm, keeping people for 5- 10 hours for a journey that is less than 30 minutes?
“At the Asaba end, there are about six sets of security operatives blocking the expressway, collecting tolls. If you manage to pass, you will find out that there is no traffic but just that they are deliberately delaying and extorting motorists.”
He said there is no area in the North in spite of the high degree of insecurity there and the West, that such road blockades can be erected.
Dede Uzor warned that “if the Federal Government failed to order the immediate dismantling and discontinuing of the closure of these entrance gates, we shall resort to massive protest that would shake the foundation of this nation.