MOST road travellers will remember with nostalgia the food delicacies they used to enjoy around the Ogbemudia Farm axis on Benin-Lagos expressway while on such long journeys. This nostalgic feeling has today melted into oblivion, sadness and melancholy as the area has been turned into a nightmare for road travellers on account of armed robbery attacks.
Day and night, luxury and mini-buses travellers are subjected to persistent armed robbery attacks as their monies, goods and sometimes lives are lost at the spot to dare-devil armed bandits, while the Police patrols seem not to care. In fact, the story making the rounds is that the so-called policemen are responsible for the robbery attacks.
They hinge their reason for holding such strong view on police connivance in the robberies to the fact that despite mounting APC and patrol vehicles on the spot, the armed robbery attacks continue as travellers are robbed at gun point with the Police just a stone throw away.
To remember that this spot was once a beehive of economic activities, ranging from food vendors, fresh fruits and vegetable traders to beer parlours where passengers stop to unwind on long journeys. That it presently remains a deserted place is a cause for regret.
Just recently, a luxury bus conveying passengers was ferociously attacked by “armed robbers” and they were all robbed of their monies, precious items, while some sustained serious bullet injuries. In another incident involving a popular transport company, one passenger was killed on the spot.
This raises the question on whether the police have lived up to expectation in discharging their primary responsibility of protecting lives and property. A situation where innocent travellers are gunned down by “armed robbers” at an identifiable dark spot, and the police fail to stop such nefarious acts leaves much to be desired.
It raises the question as to their commitment to the avowed duty of every responsible government to protect the lives and properties of its citizens. It is also worrisome that despite such incessant robbery attacks, not much effort is made by the Edo State Police Command to live up to its responsibilities, including tracking down the culprits.
At this period of dwindling oil revenues, it is expected that other sources of revenue like tourism can be enhanced, but this cannot be realised under an atmosphere of insecurity as being witnessed on the Benin–Ore expressway.
The security agencies must devise a strategy to ensure that our highways are safe, as they reflect the state of safety or the absence of it in the country. Perhaps, this accounts for the reluctance of most foreigners in Nigeria to embark on road travels, thereby denying the various states the benefits accruing from such tourism-related investments.
Time has therefore come for the Edo State Police to immediately swing into action and save road users travelling on that route the harrowing experiences of armed robbery attacks.
It is indeed disheartening that despite all the support being given to the police by state governments across the country, their performance is far from meeting the expectations of law-abiding citizens of this country.
A situation where armed robbers block a federal highway for hours, robbing passengers without the police swiftly confronting them leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
The police are infamous for always reporting to the scenes of armed robbery attacks after the evil perpetrators must have escaped with their loot, and in some cases leaving trails of blood of their victims.
There is no doubt that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is focused on safeguarding lives and properties of Nigerians, but the activities of some bad eggs in the police appear to seriously undermine such efforts.
It is, therefore, incumbent on the Inspector General of Police to rein in these elements or else they will continue to hamper his efforts at ridding the country of crime and criminality. Of course, the recent dismissal of four policemen who stole household items they were supposed to guard at former President Goodluck Jonathan’s house is a clear testimony that criminal elements are in the employ of the Nigeria Police.
Therefore, to save the majority of the policemen who are honest and dedicated, there is need to go the whole hog towards restoring the good image of the police by identifying the bad eggs and show them the way out.
Mr. Boniface Enekwechia public affairs analyst, wrote from Awka, Anambra State.