On Thursday September 2, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) will release an undercover investigation exposing officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) who specialize in fleecing motorists regardless of whether they break the law or not.
FIJ embarked on the undercover mission after reviewing repeated complaints from members of the public between January and August 2021.
The complainants largely comprised three groups: those who broke traffic laws without reason; those who broke traffic laws in exceptional, life-threatening circumstances; and those who insist they broke no law but were nevertheless harassed for money by traffic officials.
Over a period of two days, three FIJ reporters hit the streets of Lagos to simulate each of these conditions. In the end, they found out that both on the Mainland and the Island, LASTMA officials are more interested in extorting motorists than ensuring free flow of traffic.
In cases where traffic laws were breached without reason, no single LASTMA official insisted on following due process by officially booking the driver. And in cases where traffic laws were breached for supposed life-saving emergencies, no LASTMA official attempted to establish if a life was indeed at stake, much less ask what they could do to hasten our access to the dying patient.
“The corruption of traffic officials mixed with public defiance for traffic regulations is a lose-lose situation for everyone,” ‘Fisayo Soyombo, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FIJ, noted. “The government is losing an easy source of Internally Generated revenue (IGR); monies in hundreds of thousands of naira are daily ending up in private pockets instead of government coffers. And traffic offenders will continue breaking the law, knowing they can always escape punishment by bribing their way through; there is an absence of deterrence. The outcome is ultimately the promotion of a decadent society where neither the law nor humanity counts.”
FIJ will release the investigation at 07:00am Nigerian time on Thursday.
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