Transporters in Umuahia and Aba in Abia State have expressed happiness over the dismantling of military checkpoints in major highways in the area.
A cross-section of the transporters in the two Abia cities said in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday that the removal of the soldiers was a welcome development.
Chinedu Michael, a tricycle operator, said soldiers at Aro Ngwa Junction and Osisioma were causing serious traffic gridlock in the guise of checking vehicles.
Michael called for the deployment of properly trained policemen to maintain regular surveillance on the highways, while soldiers should return to the barracks.
Another operator, who identified himself simply as Ikechukwu, said although the presence of soldiers helped to scare criminals away from the highways, their conduct had become worrisome.
“If the police could be made to do their work professionally as it is done abroad, we would not want the soldiers on the roads again,” he said.
Ezeugom Umunnakwe, however, alleged that soldiers at Abayi Umueze and Aro Ngwa Junction were coming out to the checkpoint in the evening.
He urged military authorities to caution their soldiers because “many of them are working at cross purpose with the aims and objectives of the military leadership.”
Chenwendu Otuonye demanded that soldiers should be restrained permanently to the barracks, alleging that “they are behaving lawlessly among the civilian populace in Aba”.
Otuonye added: “I am not happy with their being on the roads and now that they have been asked to leave, they should stop coming out in the evenings.
“They were not trained to make life unbearable for innocent citizens.”
In Umuahia, soldiers posted to the checkpoints at Apumiri Ubakala and Old Tollgate at Umuda, near Umuahia, as well as Isialangwa Junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway have also vacated the three spots.
NAN reports that sandbags, drums and other objects used to block the roads still littered the spots.
Some road users, who spoke on the development, berated the soldiers for leaving the checkpoints without making efforts to remove the objects from the road.
Gregory Ibeji described military checkpoints as an aberration in civilised society, alleging that the phenomenon was only prevalent in Abia.
Ibeji asked: “Are we fighting a war in Abia? What are soldiers doing among the civilian populace?”
NAN reports that the military mounted checkpoints in strategic parts of Abia in the wake of the activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra.
The soldiers however vacated the checkpoints in the aftermath of the killing of a commercial motorcyclist at a checkpoint in Obingwa, near Aba on August 7 allegedly by a soldier, who is currently facing prosecution.
However, Colonel Aliu Yusuf, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 82 Division Enugu, told NAN the army had not altered its operational arrangements in Abia.
Yusuf said that soldiers in Aba and other parts of the state were still at their duty posts and that nothing had changed in their operations’ management.