Youths in Badagry area of Lagos State on Tuesday staged protest against the multiple checkpoints and extortion of motorists by law enforcement agents on Agbara-Badagry Expressway.
The youths, in different groups, were seen at the popular Badagry Roundabout carrying placards with various inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions read: “Badagryians say no to multiple checkpoints. Badagryians say no to Police brutality. Reform Nigeria Police is now. We are not criminals, stop multiple checkpoints. Badagry youths say end SARS now.”
Recall that Babatunde Hunpe, the member representing Badagry at the Federal House of Representatives, had on September 30th advised youths in Badagry area of Lagos State to shelve their planned protest earlier slated for Oct. 1 over the deplorable conditions of Lagos-Badagry Expressway, among other things.
Commenting on the Tuesday protest, Mr Gabriel Tianka, one of the coordinators of the protest, said the issue of Badagry was not only about police brutality.
“The problem we have in Badagry is that of multiple checkpoints on Agbara-Badagry Expressway.
“From Badagry to Agbara, there are more than 16 police checkpoints.
“Policemen on this road are extorting motorists; they are collecting between ₦100 to ₦200 from the drivers.
“This had made commercial vehicles plying the road to increase their transport fare from ₦150 to ₦500.
“Our people plying the road are going through this punishment everyday.
“Today, we are here to say that if the Federal Government is scraping SARS, they should help us in Badagry to cancel the multiple checkpoints on our road,” he said.
Also, a popular Badagry born international hiphop artiste, Babalola Babatunde (a.k.a Scope), said multiple checkpoints on Agbara-Badagry Expressway were affecting the socioeconomic development of the ancient town.
Babatunde said that tourists had abandoned the town because of the multiple checkpoints mounted by various law enforcement agents, as well as the deplorable state of the road.
Commenting, Mr Abdulsalam Ashade, the Coordinator of Youths in Olorunda Local Council Development Authority (LCDA), said Badagry residents were facing a lot of harassment from the police on the expressway.
“From Aradagun to Agbara, there are 16 checkpoints by Nigeria Police, Immigration, Customs and Civil Defence, youths in Badagry come out today to protest police extortion.
“Now that the government is trying to reform the police, they should help us to see to the multiple checkpoints too.
“Also, we are using this opportunity to beg the Federal Government to help us fix Badagry-Lagos Expressway; the road has become a death trap to us.
“This is the only expressway that leads to the ECOWAS countries,” he said.
In his reactions, Mr Sewedo Samuel, a concerned Badagry youth, called on the Federal Government to carry out total restructuring of the Nigeria Police.
Samuel commended the government for disbanding SARS following a series of protests that greeted their operations.
The youths marched down to Badagry Local Government Secretariat, where the Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Council addressed them and pledged his support for their protest.
They later moved to the Akran Palace and Agbalata International Market in Badagry to register their displeasure on the multiple checkpoints.
The security operatives led by SP. Peters Gbesu, the Divisional Police Officer in Badagry, were on ground to ensure that the protest was peaceful.
In his reactions, Gbesu told newsmen that he was on ground to monitor the protest and ensure that it was peaceful, and not hijacked by hoodlums.
He said that officers of the division were deployed to strategic areas to ensure that no individual’s right was disturbed.
The DPO, however, said that he would deliver the message of the youth to the state command of the police in Ikeja.