INSIDEMAINLAND – Following the Lagos State raid on drivers who obstruct traffic, some drivers have accused the police and some government employees of exploiting the situation to demand money from them.
Recall that the Lagos State Government confiscated and sold 134 cars for driving against the flow of traffic.
This however was accompanied by divergent responses from drivers and commuters who recounted their personal experiences with driving on unmarked roads.
Others asserted that traffic wardens hid from view in order to ambush drivers who joined the roadways, while some alleged that officials purposefully removed traffic signs to deceive naïve drivers.
Residents of the Iyana-Oworo community of Lagos Mainland condemned the removal of the one-way road sign that was fixed to a pole at the Vitality Junction on Olojojo Road.
They said that the police officers posted at the junction removed the sign to promote extortion.
When they reach the junction, drivers going in that direction should either turn right onto Onabanjo Street or keep to the left onto Peluola Street.
However, some drivers proceed straight ahead, which is a one-way axis, due to the lack of signs, and as a result, they are stopped and arrested.
A store owner close to the junction, who pleaded anonymity, claimed that the community youth had gotten tired of maintaining the sign only to have it taken down.
According to him, “The youths in the area have fixed the signage to the pole several times, but it does not last more than a month. We later discovered that the police officers were the ones removing it. They put it in their car and dispose of it. They have nothing to do at the junction other than wait for vehicles to take the one-way route and arrest them. Extorting money from motorists at the spot has become their daily routine. They arrest not less than 10 to 20 cars daily.”
It was gathered that the sign which was on a traffic warden box at the junction was being destroyed during the #EndSARS protest.
Another resident, Tiamiyu stated that “Their extortion was minimal when the traffic box was there, as they could not remove it then. But it has become easy for them to remove it from the pole now, and no one can question them. Most times, people signal to vehicles who enter the road to turn into a filling station at the junction so they won’t be arrested. The attendants at the filling station also try to redirect some of the motorists into their station and as a result, the police officers are not on good terms with them. They feel they are spoiling business for them.”
Kola Afolabi, a tricycle passenger, revealed that the police pursue their victims using motorbikes.
In his words, “But since the government banned Okada, some of them wait in between or at the end of the one-way axis to stop and arrest vehicles. You also see them sitting at a beer parlor opposite the filling station where they use the money to drink.”
Meanwhile, Benjamin Hundeyin, the state police public relations officer, denied being aware of the officers’ operations there.
“I am not aware of their activities and I have not received such complaints; absolutely nothing. I am hearing this for the first time. If you have any evidence, please let me know so that we can locate these corrupt officers and deal with them,” he said.
Attesting to the extortion, Lawyer Yemi Omodele, stated that commuters need to start filing complaints.
In his words, “Any commuter caught wrongly should demand evidence of the offense. They should press charges. If there is no sign there, then the law should be silent about committing a crime. They should let them know that they have rights. Laws do not work that way.
“I have been a victim there. They have a hideout; they took me there. When they discovered that I was a lawyer, they allowed me to go. They removed the signage deliberately. There cannot be sin where there is no law, and there cannot be crime where there is no law. They always hide in one of those shops there. The authorities cannot claim ignorance of the illegalities of these officers. The Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation and Commissioner of Police are aware and they should call the errant officers to order.”
Gbenga Omotosho, the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy declared that it was unlawful to remove road signs and promised to bring those responsible to justice.
He added, “Signs are put there for good motoring and for the safety of motorists. So, anyone who does that kind of thing is an enemy of society. And anyone caught doing that should face the law.”