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03.09.2021 Social Justice ‘They’re Thieves in Govt’s Uniform’ — More Victims of LASTMA Extortion Speak

Published 3rd Sep, 2021

By Ibrahim Adeyemi

More victims of the extortionate practices of the Lagos State Traffic Authority (LASTMA) officials have narrated their experiences on social media.

This is following an undercover investigation by FIJ that exposed LASTMA officials extorting motorists.

Motorists who have been victimised by LASTMA officials said an investigation exposing them was long overdue. Narrating their ordeal, many of the victims shared similar stories that corroborated FIJ’s findings.

Okey Ogbonnaya, a Lagos resident, said reading FIJ’s undercover report reminded him of his terrible experience with LASTMA’s POS extortion. He said he was victimised and extorted twice even though he could confidently argue his case on the two occasions.

“I made audio and video recordings of the incidents which I later discarded when it was apparent no one would be held responsible,” he said. “The LASTMA fish is definitely rotten from the head.”

Olukayode Oyeyele, a journalist with The Guardian newspaper, said LASTMA officials had “ambushed” him twice at different locations. On both occasions, he said, the officials contrived offences for bargaining. He said the officers only let him go when they realised he was a journalist.

READ ALSO: Police ‘Arrest’ 4 Corrupt Officers Exposed in FIJ’s LASTMA Investigation

A Twitter user known as Son of the Most High suspected that LASTMA officials were making daily contributions to fill their pockets.

“I had two terrible encounters with them,” he said. “In both instances, I was told to write an undertaking that my vehicle was released without payments, which I declined. I eventually paid N5000.”

Adebayor, another Twitter user, said the manner in which LASTMA officials at Iyanaoworo extort motorists is alarming.

“If you come down from your car at the bus stop, it’s money for them,” he said. “I don’t know when that became a crime.”

Corroborating, Kenpachi, a Lagos resident, said he had once been victimised when he parked on a road off the expressway. Without a ‘No parking’ sign or lines, he said, LASTMA officials claimed it was illegal.

“They extorted N30,000 from me,” he said. “The worst part is there isn’t an independent body that one can report cases like these to.”

Commenting on Kenpachi’s tweet on corrupt LASTMA officials, Dr. Ayo, another Twitter user, said the officers are “thieves in government’s uniform”.

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 harassed for money by traffic officials.

Although the Lagos State Police Command has arrested and detained four police officers caught on camera extorting motorists, LASTMA is yet to react to FIJ’s investigation.

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Published 3rd Sep, 2021

By Ibrahim Adeyemi

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