From Harry Awurumibe, in OWERRI
There are anger and frustrations in Imo state as security agencies extort commercial drivers and alleged face masks defaulters in a bid to enforce the Federal Government’s Coronavirus pandemic approved health protocols.
Prompt News investigations revealed that drivers and passengers who are found not wearing face masks inside private and commercial vehicles in the state are subjected to all sorts of harassment and payment of illegal fine.
Our correspondent can confirm that such agencies as the Police, Civil Defence, etc mounted checkpoints along the major and rural roads in the state to enforce the Covid-19 approved health guidelines.
While commercial drivers plying the Okigwe to Owerri route and other routes across the state pay from N50 to N200 at each security check-point, individuals who failed to wear face masks pay more to bail themselves.
For example, our correspondent observed that a minibus driver travelling from the Owerri capital city to Okigwe town via Anara in Isiala Mbano LGA paid over N500 with each Police or Civil Defence checkpoint collecting N50 from the hapless driver.
Vehicles are stopped at every 300 meters as checkpoints are mounted almost close to each other across the state.
Also, Prompt News can confirm that not wearing face masks is now a big offence in the state and the Police is helping the state government to enforce the “new” law to the later.
This has however brought agony to people found “guilty” of not wearing face masks even in front of their ancestral homes.
One of such “excessive” enforcement of the Covid-19 pandemic law in Imo state was the arrest of a teenage boy, Darlington Okey near his house at Umunuma, Okohia Town along Anara- Mbano- Umuahia road.
His father, Mr. Innocent Okey told Prompt News he sent his teenager to buy provision across the road on Thursday only for a Police patrol van to pull over to arrest Darlington.
He expectedly parted with some money before his kid was released to him.
He said the Police detachment that arrested his son are from Isiebu Police Post in Isiala Mbano LGA. They always mount road block every day at St. Paul’s Catholic School, Ikpa Omini in Ezihe, Osuh.
Residents of the town alleged that they have suffered too much harassment of late in the hands of the law enforcement officers and urged the state and federal authorities to come to their rescue.
They told Prompt News that extortion have become a pandemic in its own and want it to stop without further delay.