Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
Sir: The excesses of operatives of the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences Unit (Task Force) are again being brought to the attention of the state government and why efforts must be stepped up towards stopping these.
Regular road users are not unaware of the many antics of traffic law enforcers who move around in unpainted or commercial buses and jump into driver’s path in the bid to clampdown and tow vehicles to their stations where huge sums are extorted from the hapless drivers.
They sometimes hide in different corners waiting for traffic offenders instead of providing corrections. They are everywhere in Lagos but some of their hot spots are Maryland, Okota Roundabout, Ejigbo, Cele Bus-Stop along Apapa Oshodi Expressway, Apple Junction in Amuwo-Odofin, Mile 12, Ikeja, Oshodi, Lagos Island, and many other spots.
To show they mean business and put fear on the motorists, the traffic officers engage corrupt police officers with guns and touts with sticks working with them in most of these areas.
The officers have perfected their act as they go with iron thorns placed on alleged offenders’ tyres to force them to stop or risk the tyre bursting. There are so many of these unreported cases daily. The most vexatious aspect is that sometimes, they are not interested in their major responsibility of allowing free flow of traffic but looking for whom to arrest.
It got so bad in February this month when a Danfo driver set himself ablaze along Airport Road after his bus was impounded. The driver, one Mr. Ayo, aka ‘Eru’ poured petrol on himself to scare the security operatives from taking away the bus and when his extreme efforts failed, he set himself ablaze.
Also recently, an unnamed man died along the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway when he tried to hang on to his vehicle, which was being driven away by task force officials and slipped.
The convener of the Nigeria Broadcasters Merit Awards, Akinwumi Gbolahan, also narrated how he was dehumanised and forced to pay 70,000 for traffic offences he didn’t commit. According to him, he was treated like a criminal after policemen tagged as task force took over his vehicle at Mile 12/Owode Onirin axis and forcefully took him to their station.
In his words: “As I drove towards Mile 12, I was flagged down by one dirty looking guy on mufti. The guy claimed that I had broken traffic law by taking the BRT lane. I was in shock because I know that I did not commit any traffic offence.
This is why I am calling on the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to look into the matter and ensure that other helpless citizens do not become victims of these experiences while enforcers try to bring sanity to Lagos roads.