Every State in Nigeria especially in these times of crisis and security woes needs the services of security operatives. It was postulated by Shakespeare that security gives way to conspiracy but in Imo State Security gives vent to oppression. We shall return to this later.
They come in various outfits and colours and at times seen at road junctions pretending to help vehicle traffic direction and any unsuspecting visitor could mistake them for friends, borrowing a leaf from the Police is your friends. By the way the police is a national organization made up of officers and men from all parts of Nigeria. If a non indigene police officer can be your friend why not your own brothers and sisters recruited from among us, who also know what people are passing through.
All those who made noise that the police collects tips or is it bribe for as low as N20 (twenty naira) should close their mouths now that an organization has been set up by government to really extort money from the citizenry. I mean those people in yellow shirt and black trousers.
It is yet to be ascertained whether the government assembled them so as to keep them busy instead of idling away thereby reducing unemployment or put up to extort money from vehicles on roads that have no road signs. Are these people on salary at all? Even if they are told to collect money from people and pay themselves, should it not be done with some moderation and understanding one of the sins of Entraco during the Willie Amadi regime is that some roads were designated one way and only one side parking without any signs whatsoever. This then was a deliberate ploy to trap and arrest an unsuspecting motorist. Young men from local environments had a field day and the public outcry is still echoing. I will not mention the consequence.
In countries where vehicles are not allowed to park by the road side, building compounds do have parking spaces which actually make roadside parking an offence. We only copy half.
In Owerri, and I thank the governor for dreaming up the modernization of our streets. Unfortunately, it has come to be known that the covered areas of the drainage gutters are unsafe for parking because the contractors are not doing a good and solid job.
The security oppressives of government said if you park on them you pay heavily.
One day, I fell foul of the parking prohibition without knowing it and by the time I came out I saw a lady and his Youngman colleague and they told me that they were detailed by may be an “Oga at the top” to wait for the owner of the vehicle and arrest and unpound the vehicle.
My argument was that I did not spend more that (7) seven minutes and worse of all there is no parking space in the compound I went into. They would hear none of my arguments but rather demanded the sum of N10,000 (ten thousand naira) only as according to them I would pay N25,000 (twenty five thousand naira) if I get to the office which I do not know where it was. Well I opened the doors for them to come in so we can go to the office and unfortunately the female who appeared from the way she carried herself to be the boss asked me to apologize. I was so grateful and profusely rendered apologies but that was not to be as she told me that I should bring only N2000.00 (two thousand naira). Unfortunately, I had only N1000 (one thousand naira) with me and they collected it promptly, walked across the road and boarded a keke. In the next one minute I did not see them again and it became obvious that I had fallen “Mugu” to those oppressives.
Their acts which offend our sensibilities are carried out in New Owerri and World Bank areas. In these areas they are usually about (6) six or more in more than two buses, park and hide so as to trap their victims.
Rather than warn or stop you from commuting their prescribed offence, they allow you to fully commit it and then block you from two ends with two buses, jump out like muggers from these buses and begin to struggle for your steering with you if your doors are not opened for them to jump into. They will escort you to the corner and use tyre locks to hold your tyres and you are on your way to losing N25,000 (twenty five thousand naira) to a government that came to rescue you or is it to the security oppressives assuming they employed themselves.
One day, I saw a friend who is a Professor with the Federal University of Technology, Owerri inside First Bank, New Owerri. The degree of sadness on his visage can only be imagined. I approached him thinking that he was mourning a promising young man from our town who was abducted and murdered but no way. He has, just that early morning, on his way to school, fallen into the trap of the oppressives and they seized his vehicle and demanded N25,000.00 just like that. He had come to the bank to make some withdrawals to offset the bill when he narrated his experience to his bank manager who helped him put a call across to someone somewhere and they now asked him to pay the sum of N10,000.00 (ten thousand naira).
My friend Ken was not so lucky. We were billed to attend a burial in my home town. The man died in USA and is well known to Ken because all of them stay there. When I could not see him I left only to discover that he did not eventually attend the burial ceremony. Reason! The Rescue Mission security oppressives arrested him as he attempted to make a U-turn so as to wash his car. He had offended. All his American accent which showed that for a very long time he had not been part of this home environment of madness did not help him. After a long argument which went into the day he was forced to cough out the sum of N25,000.00 (twenty five thousand naira). The disgust and sadness made him cancel the burial trip that day.
Well first fool is not foolishness and so all motorists operating within World Band and New Owerri areas are fast learning their lessons. One big question is since we are told that these oppressives are paid with the money they realize, when they do not realize any money what will happen. Let us hope and pray that they will not manufacture offences with a hope to survive unemployment. Anyway, it is obvious that not all their victims go the whole hug of payment of stipulated fees as there have been cases of settlements along the way. My only sadness is that women who are yet to be and hope to be mothers are involved in this extortion or should I really say oppression.