Collins Kanu, a car importer, has narrated how thugs allegedly working for the Motor Vehicle Administration Agency (MVAA) assaulted him in Apapa, Lagos State.
Kanu, who almost went blind after the thugs beat him, said he could not see nor stand upright for some days after the incident.
On December 3, Kanu went to the Otto wharf in Apapa to clear a new car he had just imported when some men in yellow vests accosted him and began demanding money fiercely.
He asked them why he needed to pay them and what he would pay for. The men said by paying, he was respecting the Lagos State Government and, at the same time, buying a Temporary Vehicle Tag (TVT).
“I told them TVT is not for everybody. It is for those who want to use their unregistered cars on the expressways. I told them I did not intend to use the car as it had just come from the port,” Kanu told FIJ.
Kanu insisted that he would not pay for a TVT because he was taking the car to his parking lot where he would eventually sell it. But the men, who Kanu later described as thugs, said it was compulsory for him to get the tag.
Seeing their persistence, Kanu agreed to pay for a TVT. He asked them if they would give him a receipt if he paid, but the men said he would not get a receipt.
“They said they could not give me a receipt, saying if I wanted one, I should go to their office across the road, pay N3,700 and get a receipt. I agreed to go pay, but the thugs said I could not go with my car,” he said.
“So I became suspicious and asked them if they worked with the MVAA. They said ‘yes’. I told them to show me their identity cards, but they said, ‘We are here to enforce and not to show ID cards.'”
Kanu did not argue with the men but suggested that two of them hop in his car while he drove to their office to pay for the tag. But again, the men refused. Kanu finally agreed to walk to their office to pay, but only on the condition that he would take pictures of them.
“They said I couldn’t take videos of them and threatened to break my phone if I did. I wanted to make videos of their boss, but he figured it out and smashed my phone against the ground. Then they all pounced on me and beat me till I passed out,” he said.
When Kanu regained consciousness, he could not find his phone, his wallet, or his car. Worse still, he could not see any of the men in the area. He immediately boarded a motorcycle and rode to the Mile 2 Police Station to lodge a complaint.
“They told me it was not their jurisdiction, advising me to go to Kirikiri Police Station. At Kirikiri, the police officers asked me to pay N5,000 for what they called a mobilisation fee. If I had not paid, they would not have followed me to the scene where the thugs seized my car,” he said.
“When we got to the scene, I pointed out six of them to the officers. Then they asked them to go to the station, but they all said they would not go. Later, the police began to beg that one of them should follow them to the police station. One of them volunteered to. He was their boss.”
At the station, Kanu and the leader of the thugs narrated what happened to an officer who stood as a judge. But the police officer, who had spoken to the leader of the thugs, said both Kanu and the thugs sustained injuries, and there was no case because of that. The leader of the thugs gave Kanu his phone at the station.
The following day, Kanu went to the MVAA at Otto Wharf to ask about his car. He narrated what had happened the previous day, but the officials told him towing cars was not their business.
“They said if I wanted to know who towed my car, I should go and meet the ones on the road, the same ones that beat me. I was shocked. The MVAA official who spoke to me said my car was at the Signal Barracks,” he said.
Kanu was surprised because if the men worked for the Lagos State Government as they claimed, his car would have been parked in a compound and not a barrack.
KANU AND THE LAGOS STATE WHARF
To get his car, Kanu went to the Lagos State Wharf Landing Fees Collecting Authority (LSWLFCA) at the Apapa wharf. An official told him he would pay N150,000 as his car had been confiscated. He did not argue but asked for a document and was taken to one of their offices.
At the office, they did not initially want to attend to him because they thought he had beaten up some MVAA officials. When he showed them a video of thugs beating him, they screamed.
“They said they did not know any of the men and were not sure if they worked for the Lagos State Government. They also said they would not collect any money from me as I had sustained injuries,” he said.
Next, Kanu was taken to the admin section by the officials of the LSWLFCA. A man at the admin said he wanted to know who the thugs were as he had received numerous complaints about them. “He said the N150,000 he said I should pay was because he thought I broke a law,” Kanu said.
“We left for the barracks where the car was packed. We met one O.A. Adeboye, who said I had beaten up people and should not enter the office. As I was about to defend myself, the guys who followed me signalled that I should rather not say a word.”
He remained quiet. After a while, the admin asked him to pay N15,000 for parking in the barracks, N10,000 for towing his vehicle, and N1,000 at the gate.
Kanu pleaded that he had almost nothing on him, so he paid N20,000 – N10,000 at the barracks and N10,000 to the head of the thugs – and took his car to his lot. This was on December 6.
After collecting his car, he realised the MVAA used the thugs to force people who had just imported cars to buy the temporary vehicle tag.
“If you don’t buy it, they will beat you up,” he told FIJ. “If you don’t get the tag, they will tow your car to the signal barracks. You will pay N5,000 per day if it is parked there. When you want to collect your car, they will have submitted it to LFWLFCA. For them to release it, you will pay N150,000.”
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