Motorists and residents who usually ply the Onitsha-Owerri road have lamented alleged extortion by the military, who have checkpoints at the Enamel junction and the Obosi By-pass axis of the federal road.

The Enamel junction is located in Ogbaru Local Government Area, while the Obosi By-pass is located in the Idemili North Local Government Area, a few kilometers apart.

The military soldiers allegedly started extorting drivers who use the portion of road after 6 pm because of the state government’s 6 am – 6 pm curfew put on various local government areas, including the Ogbaru LGA.

In interviews with journalists on Monday, some drivers expressed their displeasure that the military checkpoints, particularly the Enamel junction, had turned into a “detention camp” where they were detained and occasionally subjected to various forms of punishment, such as frog jumps or sitting on the bare floor.

The Abuja Post learned that tricycle drivers were asked to pay N200, shuttle bus drivers were asked to pay N500, and heavy-duty vehicle drivers were asked to pay N1,000 or more at the checkpoints, depending on the goods they are carrying.

Catherine Osondu, a resident of Awada in the Idemili North LGA who claimed to travel the road to her home every day, bemoaned the fact that on Sunday, she and other passengers were detained by soldiers at the Enamel junction for merely looking at the military personnel while they were sourcing for change (balance) for the tricycle operator carrying them.

She said  “At about 6:47 pm on Sunday, when the Keke that carried us got to Enamel, the Keke rider gave the military personnel N500, and as they were sourcing for change, they forcefully ordered us to alight. They later gave the Keke rider N300 change and ordered him to move while they ordered us to stand by the roadside.

“They started querying us for looking at their faces while they were sourcing for change for the Keke rider. They detained us for more than an hour.

“Some other victims who tried to resist were also forced to do frog jump in our presence. It was a funny experience that evening. I didn’t know that it was now a crime to look at the faces of soldiers.”

Jude Eche, the chairman of the local Tricycle Riders Association, urged the state administration to lift the curfew that has been in effect since June so that the military wouldn’t have an excuse to extort drivers.