Everywhere in the world, people see law enforcement officials as go-to-persons, especially in traffic related and road safety issues. This was exactly the thought of Mrs. Roseline Adejumo (not real name) when she made a stop by the roadside to ask two officers of the Lagos State Abandoned Vehicle Unit for directions.
Adejumo was returning from a visit to her daughters’ school on Thursday, when she met the two men at the Orile Iganmu roundabout. But rather than help, the uniformed men instinctively hopped into the woman’s vehicle, saying she had committed an offence.
Adejumo was shocked and requested to know what her offence was. The men could not give any concrete response.
“When I won’t stop demanding to know what our offence was, they eventually introduced themselves as men of the Abandoned Vehicles Taskforce team of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation at Iponri,” she told FIJ. “How does a team whose responsibility is primarily on abandoned vehicles claim a functional vehicle has committed an offence?”
As the argument went on, the men demanded to see the vehicle particulars. But instead of returning the papers after checking, they asked Adejumo and her brother, who drove the car, to go with them to their office.
The reason they gave was that they had been mandated to always check if cars such as the one they had just “caught” had a prior record with them. They further said if , on getting to the office, they were able to confirm the car’s record, Adejumo and her brother would be free to go.
“But surprisingly, as soon as we got to their site, they snatched the car key from my brother and demanded that we paid N53,000 as fine. One of them even pretended as if he was about issuing us a ticket to that effect but never did,” she said.
A few elderly officials from the same unit eventually decided to step in and persuaded the lady to make a N10,000 payment to the officials before her car key was handed back to her.
Speaking with FIJ, Adejumo faulted such brazen extortion “in a place as civilized as Lagos”.
“Law enforcement officials should always be ready to help whenever called upon by citizens. This should not be happening in Lagos,” she said.
FIJ made attempts to reach the ministry via the phone lines on its webiste, but none of them was available at the time of filing this report.
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