This essay is about everyday encounters with the checkpoint state in a locus of enduring counterinsurgency. Specifically, the essay examines how road-transport workers in northeast Nigeria experience and negotiate the omnipresent threat of the checkpoint state in their workaday world. Further, the essay underscores the spatial practices and social imaginaries through which the checkpoint state is constituted as simultaneously an apparatus of predation and as a space of negotiation. For mobile subjects in extremis, the threat of the checkpoint state is not episodic, but a feature of the landscape itself — a permanent, radical sense of immobility and insecurity. The daily pursuit of survival under the shadow of the “war on terror” compels road-transport workers to participate in the corrupt, coercive, and humiliating system they denounce.

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