Soldiers have returned to the checkpoint mounted at the Orimerunmu, Ogun State end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, thereby subjecting motorists to hardship.
PUNCH Metro had, in a series of stories published in March, highlighted the travails of motorists and residents plying the expressway to navigate their destinations within and beyond the Orimerunmu community, in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, who complained about being subjected to traumatising tortures by soldiers who indiscriminately mount roadblock on the expressway to extort money from them daily.
PUNCH Metro reported then that the soldiers, under the guise of conducting routine security checks, usually used barricades to create a checkpoint on the expressway at night.
The situation usually caused a backlog of traffic induced by the slow-paced movement of vehicles navigating the narrow opening created by the soldiers on the expressway.
Motorists and residents complained that hoodlums had been taking advantage of the situation to rob them of their valuables while stuck in the gridlock.
Following the reports, the soldiers dismantled the roadblock while motorists heaved sighs of relief.
Their relief was however short-lived as the soldiers were said to have returned to the roadblock on Monday evening.
A motorist, who did not want his name in print for fear of victimisation, told our reporter that when the soldiers returned on Monday night, they mounted roadblocks on both lanes of the expressway at the Orimerunmu end.
The source added that they however restricted their operation on Tuesday night to the inward Lagos lane of the road.
He said, “It was surprising to see them again on Monday after they left that axis for some weeks. I was on my way back from work when I ran into the gridlock they caused on the outward Lagos lane.
“By the time I looked at the other side, I saw that their colleagues were also on the inward Lagos lane. I was surprised to see them at that spot again.”
Another eyewitness said some of the barriers used by the soldiers to mount the roadblock were still seen lying by the roadside of the expressway when he resumed work in the early hours of Tuesday.
The source said, “People thought they had left that end of the road for good. It was shocking to see them again. They used to carry one of the woods we use for our work to block the expressway. When I came back to work this morning, I saw it missing from where we used to keep it.
“We were all happy when we did not see them for some days. There was no gridlock on that road while they were away. The bad guys who specialise in committing crimes inside the gridlock also disappeared during the period.
“With their return, we have started noticing gridlock again and we are afraid that the bad boys may also return.”
When contacted on Wednesday on the return of the soldiers to the roadblock, the spokesperson for the 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Lt.-Col. Olabisi Ayeni, promised to contact the Commanding Officer in charge of the area on the matter.
“I will call the CO and find out. When there were reports the previous time, the CO quickly intervened and we were able to sort it out. Now, I will speak with the CO again to intervene,” Ayeni promised.