While lockdown has been eased in certain parts of Nigeria, ban on inter-state travel is yet to be officially lifted. Neither has any date been set for when usually crowded markets shall re-open.
Typical examples are Oja-Oba and Oja Bisi in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital. While they remain closed, all roads leading to the market are guarded by armed personnel, using roadblocks.
While it is uncertain for how long law enforcement officers would man similar roads across the federation, what is certain is that, for now, they will still play a role in ensuring people comply to lockdown regulations. While there have been occasions where officials abuse their power, the majority are simply doing their job to reduce the strain that a massive amount of infections will place on the country.
Therefore, as a motorist or pedestrian, it is advisable that if you encounter a roadblock during this time, do your part to ensure officers can do their job with as little hassle as possible.
If you need to go out for shopping, go to the shop that is closest to you and minimise your time on the road. If you encounter a roadblock on one of these errands, simply explain what you’re doing and don’t immediately become confrontational.
Many states across the country only allow movement Monday to
Friday but maintains lockdown on Saturday and Sunday. Threfore, if you are on
essential service and so have to travel on the two days, make sure you are with your work identity card.
Do not abuse the identity card to do things that you shouldn’t either.
Additionally, make sure you follow other rules set out for travel in terms of
required number of occupants, wearing of face mask, if you didn’t isolate with
your passengers or if an officer approaches your car.
Unfortunately, social media abounds with videos of people who appeared to be mistreated by officials. If you avoid aggression and confrontational behaviour against the officers on duty, there is likelihood not to have any clash or unpleasant experience with them.
If you provide information and the documents quickly and efficiently, the interaction with the officers at road block is likely to be over quickly. Certain responses will inevitably elicit certain reactions.
However, if you remain suspicious of authorities, there are certain things you can do to safeguard yourself without conflict.
You are within your right to request identification from the officer at the start. While it is within your right to film the interaction with the police; this could change the atmosphere between yourselves, it is not advisable in Nigeria of today, unless you have the camera installed on your car’s dash and not an android phone flashed on the face of a police officer on the road. If you have an in-car camera, even better. This is the best time to get it rolling, as you approach a road block, for evidence in case things go bad.
In essence, whether or not you have an in-car camera, even if you feel threatened at a roadblock, do not lose your temper. Remain calm at all times. Remain compliant with the officer, even if you feel you are being treated unfairly.. If you become aggressive, an officer could arrest or delay you. If you can avoid this altogether and raise the issue later through formal channels, the whole incident will be much less stressful and even traumatic.
Remember, this is a stressful time for Nigeria and the whole world.
While you can’t control what a police officer does, you can control your reaction. Remain calm and don’t incite the situation especially if it is already volatile.