No Santa For Igbos: The Annual Christmas Blockade Of Eastern Nigeria

By Collins Onuegbu
24th December 2018

I don’t have the data. But the migration of the Igbos of Eastern Nigeria homewards for the Christmas season is one of the biggest migrations in Africa. I need to be convinced that there is any other nationality in Africa that does as much as Igbos in going to their ancestral land during the Christmas and New Year’. Reason is that the nationality is dispersed all over the world and there is a compulsion, almost a duty to visit home during this period

The struggling Nigerian economy and the logistics of coming home has always been a damper. The roads are bad. Flying is a pain. But the resilient ones still go. There are lots that happens when this migration happens. Wedding, funerals, fund raising, project development, community development. And just the joy of being with family and friends in this season of joy and celebration.

Police, Customs and the Army lay Siege

Of recent though, the experience of home coming has become synonymous with a state siege on those going home. In the very distant past, it was mostly the police. They would mount road blocks a few kilometers apart from Lagos or Abuja all the way to almost your compound in the East. Asking the same question as if in-between the checkpoints, you recommit whatever offence the last checkpoint accused you of. It has always been an extortion operation orchestrated with support from the top of the police hierarchy. Targeted at all those who dare to travel home by road to celebrate.

Not to be outdone, other agencies of the state have piled into this extortion bazaar. Today customs lines up on the road from Lagos to Onitsha. Searching and seizing goods bought from the open markets of Lagos. You buy certain goods in the shop beside your house in Lagos, it becomes contraband once you are on the Lagos Sagamu road. My wife bought bags of rice she gives to the less privileged when she is in the East, Transporters refused to carry them. Reason was that Nigerian customs would seize it on the way. Rice bought in open markets in Lagos. Try driving your own car home. Both police and customs will invent crimes attached to having the audacity to buy and drive a car home.

And as you pass the Niger bridge into the core Eastern heartland, the army blocks the poorly neglected Federal roads in the zone. Or the fairly motorable ones. Like a zone that just went through a war. That you would have an army of occupation in a zone that is not at war with the state, I cannot understand. Nigeria is fighting a war with Boko Haram in the North East. And Boko Haram is killing our soldiers. Armed Herdsmen and killing farmers in most of the North of Nigeria and at last count killed over four thousand people this year.

But the army chooses to blockade the East. In the absence of any real thing to do, the bad ones among them can be seen openly extorting, money from travelers and competing with police.

Why is the East prone to officially orchestrated extortion?

Flaunting Wealth

The Igbos are the loudest in Nigeria about their money. In a corrupt Nigeria, they are an easy target for any agency of state that wants a piece of their money. The Nigerian police was the first to get in and take advantage. And the typical Igbo person. nervous and impatient to deal with state agencies is a perfect target for police extortion. Police will always find something that is wrong with you or they will create an imaginary crime you don’t have the time to deal with as you race home to your country home. They understand the psychology of the traveler and use it well. Many years ago, in protest of this police corruption, I ended up in police station on a few occasions along the way from Lagos to the East. I even once slept in a police station with my then young wife because I was not quick in settling the police for no offence other than driving a car I owned. So, most would settle the police than end up in a police station where there is no redress. The corruption goes all the way to the top so why bother?

Complacency of the Igbo politicians and Elite

The Igbo elite mouth marginalization from Nigeria when it suits them. The politicians use it to fight for federal appointments. But being selected for state sanctioned extortion is for me one of the fights the Igbo elite, from politician to civil society and anyone else should fight for. The tax this extortion puts on the eastern economy and the wealth of the average Igbo is unimaginable. And that it makes the entire zone a place to avoid for business is even a worse burden Most from the zone don’t realize this. It was things of this nature that forced many eastern business men to relocate from the zone. And outsiders who want to come to the zone for business to avoid the zone entirely.

And the state Condones it

The Nigerian government is complicit in this siege. Nigerian Customs officially defends why it should consider rice bought in open markets as contraband as it heads East. And why cars that have documents that have been cleared to drive in Lagos or Abuja suddenly become contraband once they head East. The Nigerian Police has paid lip service to disbanding road blocks. Last week, they announced another of those annual bans. But the road blocks will continue to exist, and no one will be punished. In the period when every phone has a camera, its inconceivable that police leadership will deny knowledge of the open extortion that happens during this period by their men.

And the army of occupation in the East? It even has a name. Python Dance. Given to it by the Army. I wish we can do a python dance against Boko Haram. Or the armed Herdsmen. Or those who steal Nigeria oil in the high seas. But against defenseless civilians in the East? There is civil criminality in the East. But that’s the reason for the police in the first place if they will leave their corrupt ways and face their job.

Fear of the state.

As we head homewards this season. we know there is risk of criminality on the way. But that’s not our biggest problem. We know the road to the East are bad, Neglected both by the federal government and the states. But we will get by. We know that prices will go through the roof and make things unaffordable when you get to the East., But that’s been factored into our plans. These will not we our biggest worry. Most people will worry more about encounters with agents of the state. Will police arrest you? Will customs seize your car or domestic belongings? How much money do you have to put aside to settle police, customs, army and any other agency that turns up? How much time will they waste as they mount road blocks that create traffic on freeways? I once had an accident caused by one of the agencies as in their haste to stop a motorist, I ended up hitting the car in front of me. Damaged car. Traumatized family. I nursed the car all the way home and spent Christmas with mechanics.

 

This Siege Must stop

This siege has gone on for too long and should not be allowed to go on any longer. The state owes citizens the simple joy of a season. Nigeria is a tough place to live in in ordinary times. But Christmas and New Year offer the opportunity to forget the hardship and just enjoy the season. Like the rest of civilization. It is out rightly unfair and unjust that a people can be subjected to additional hardship to have this simple joy of living. Very unfair. And that we accept it as the way things should be makes all of us complicit.

 

Collins Onuegbu

No Santa For Igbos: The Annual Christmas Blockade Of Eastern Nigeria

Igbos Travelling Home

Igbo's Are Not The Reason For Transport Fare Increase In South-East

Police Backhand

I have read a trending misguided assertions, of "Igbos Hate Themselves" and worst of all asking if that is how we will get Biafra,  as Christmas increase of Transport fare remains the focus, for this current baseless averment. Being a Biafran there are misleading National garbages, I won't give room to, especially when it is an orchestrated plan against the Biafran people.

If you  claim the Igbos are responsible for the augmentation of Transport fare in the Eastern region, then you must answer the following questions;

(1)Why are massive number of Hausa/Fulani headed Security Force deployed to the South-East, for extortion of Money from Commercial vehicles coming and exiting the East during Christmas festive periods?

(2)How well have you criticized the Nigeria Security Forces, for extorting N100 billion for three years in South-East, following recent report released in the month of December 2018?

(3)How many Road Blocks or Check Points can you sight from Sokoto to Abuja?

(4)Is any Easterner the Commissioner of Police or Military Head in any South-East State, that receives his own share of commercial vehicle extortions?

(5)Can the number of Police extortion check points found during the Christian festive seasons in the East, be compared to that of the North while observing theirs?

The Hausa/Fulani people indeed utilised the divisive tactics taught by the British empire, to compel Ndigbo into fighting against each other, whilst they enrich themselves with the resources found their in. They orchestrate every plan and then bring the end product of the evil moves to the public, with the mindset of dividing us. If the number of Road Extortion Blocks mounted from Owerri to Port Harcourt is lesser than that of Kano, then we shall key into your assertions.

Every commercial driver in the East, no longer think of Money to fuel their vehicles, but rather the amount that will be extorted from them by the Nigeria Force Men.

 Every Passenger luggage has a charge fee, by each  Check Point. Military Men extorts theirs forcefully and give returns to their Hausa/Fulani bosses.

It will surprise you to know that, every dime stolen from commercial drivers in the East, is being shared by top Nigeria Security officials because, that is the only reason N100 Billion was extorted within Three Years, in the East with indemnity.

Biafrans are too intelligent to absorb the divisive concocted averments from the perpetrators of our problems and will never capitulate in our quest for freedom, until we get our Nation Biafra restored.

Written By Ibeh Gift Amarachi

 

 

OBASANJO'S RESPONSE ON BBC'S HARDTALK
WHY IGBOS ARE ANGRY WITH NIGERIA

Chief Obasanjo
“My friends who are not from the East of Nigeria where Igbos come from often ask me why there is so much anger in the East and among Igbos. Some wonder why, despite the famed Igbo”
More>>>>
 
 
History: Biafra Opening The Eyes Of Black Race
Her Majesty The Queen
I have followed closely the recent Biafra agitations and the comments for and against as well as the belief that Biafra only came in 1967 or that Biafra is only Igbo or landlocked.
More>>>>
 
 
One Nigeria, One Big Corruption: The British Made "Nigeria" that is Riddled with Corruption Has Expired and Ripe for Break-up
Nigeria Logo vs Biafra Logo

What are we waiting for? Isn’t it very obvious even to the daftest that the contraption called Nigeria is a failed state by every definition and every parameter? Is this what a country of 186 million people supposed to be? Should we continue to sustain a country that is unsustainable?
 
 
 
Details of 1914 Amalgamation of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria
Sir Frederick Lugard’s Confidential Memorandum on the Administration of Nigeria
 
 
 
The Atrocities of Nigeria Islamic Army on Christians in the South East of Nigeria
Killing Unarmed 02
The Atrocities Committed on Defenceless Christian Civilians in Abia State, South East, Biafra Land by Nigeria Islamic Army
 
 
 
 
Biafra is not Igbo and Igbo is not Biafra
Map of Biafra-s
Many have been misled to believe that the defunct Republic of Biafra was another name for the Igbo ethnic group in Nigeria. This notion is totally untrue. The defunct Republic of Biafra was the name for the entire eastern region of Nigeria as at May 30, 1967, which comprised of 8 provinces namely
More>>>>
 
 
 
Meaning of Igbo in Nigeria’s Geopolitics
Meaning of Igbo in Nigeria’s geopolitics
Depending on where one is standing, in Nigeria, the name Igbo is a compound word that includes many ethnic groups heaped together.