Officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and the Anti-Oneway and Other Traffic Offenders Squad of the Lagos State Police Command have extorted N93,500 from commercial drivers who broke traffic rules while fleeing a robbery scene along Orile-Mile 2 Expressway.
At about 12 midnight on Wednesday, the commercial drivers were held back at Iganmu (underbridge) by the joint team of the Police and LASTMA, and were not released until they paid bribes to the officers.
Speaking with FIJ, three out of the five drivers said they paid up to N93,500 to the officers before their confiscated vehicles were released.
Jude Oguanma, a driver working for Peace Mass Transit, a private transport company, said the officers collected N47,000 from him. Richard Samson, an e-hailing driver, also said he grudgingly paid N46,000 after much pleading.
“One of the police officers slapped me while I was trying to explain my reason for driving against traffic,” Richard began. “I challenged them to go after the robbers, but they didn’t do that.
“They were only interested in taking us into custody so we could beg them with money. It’s a pity this country is not working at all. They freed me at about 1pm after I paid N46,000.”
‘LIE FROM THE DEEPEST PIT’
While trying to take a picture of the happenings, a phone belonging to Daniel Ezekiel, another victim, was seized. Inspector Shadrack Samson, who claimed to be in possession of the phone, told FIJ that Ezekiel had intruded on other detainees’ privacy.
“Apart from the fact they all lied about any occurrence of robbery, Ezekiel was also capturing the faces of the other people with his phone and those ones complained to me over the invasion of their privacy,” the police officer saidd. “He would be charged to court for breaking a traffic law, and if he has any case, he should prepare to present it.”
However, Ezekiel countered the officer’s claim, saying, “It is a lie from the deepest pit. After directing all others to pay money to the LASTMA officers, he didn’t ask me because a journalist was involved in my case.”
Both Oguanma and Richard Samson also debunked the policeman’s claim. Ezekiel was eventually released after paying N12,500 to the LASTMA officers on Wednesday evening.
When FIJ spoke with Kehinde Akerele, the Legal Director of LASTMA, he asked the victims to visit his office on Friday for identification of the corrupt officers and a refund.
“If they are able to identify the culprits, we will deal with them,” he said.
Two weeks ago, FIJ published an undercover investigation on how LASTMA officers operate like a criminal gang, extorting road users even when life is at stake.
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