Borno Governor Babagana Zulum has accused the army and police of collecting bribes from poor citizens without National ID cards at check points along major highways especially the Maiduguri/Damaturu highway.
The visibly angry Zulum made the open accusation on Monday afternoon at a checkpoint at the outskirts of Maiduguri along the Damaturu/Maiduguri highway where he saw thousands of stranded travellers.
He exchanged words with the Theatre Commander, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi.
The Damaturu/Maiduguri road, though the most relatively safe route connecting Maiduguri, has recently become increasingly dangerous as Boko Haram launched intermittent ambushes on security operatives and civilians on the highway.
Zulum, angered by the number of people he saw at the check-points on his way to Jakana, a town attacked by the insurgents on Sunday, began to speak on top of his voice.
He condemned the action of security men holding travellers and collecting money from them.
“This is unacceptable,”Gov. Zulum spoke raising his voice.
“How can you subject people to this kind of torture all in the name of National ID card? And you are all here collecting N500 and N1000 from poor travellers who don’t have national ID card.”
The governor’s voice and anger was seen to have increased when a soldier approached him and tried to offer an explanation.
Replying the soldier, he said: : “No this is not right. The Federal Government has not created an enabling environment for our people to get their National ID cards and you are here collecting N500 and N1000 as a fine for not having what the Federal Government has not provided for all.”
The governor stressed that he has for some time received reports of soldiers and police exploiting travellers at check-points in the name of national identity card.
Zulum immediately directed one of his aides to contact the Theatre Commander on phone where a hot exchange of words between the two ensued.
The governor was heard shouting on phone: “Theater Commander where are you? …Right now I’m at the checkpoint near state university and we have thousands of people stranded and your people are here collecting money from people because they don’t have National ID Card. Why?”
Adeniyi later arrived at the scene to defend his men but the governor insisted that the soldiers were collecting bribe even in his presence.
Facing the Theatre Commander, the governor insisted: “I saw them with my eyes, I spoke with people that were asked to give money!”
Major General Adeniyi maintained that the hold-up was as result of the Sunday incident at Jakana but promised the governor to investigate the accusation to find out if it was true.
Zulum, who left in anger, told the Theatre Commander: “You must know that the government and people of Borno state are behind you and your men but you must call your soldiers to order, you must check their excesses.”