The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has arrested five of its traffic officials for extorting motorists in various parts of the metropolis last week.
Those arrested are Bamidele Shehu, a level seven traffic officer aged 48 and resident of 68, Oke Popo Street, Lagos Island; Ope Adisa, aged 32 and level 5 traffic officer of 8, Freeman Street, Lagos Island, and Babatunde Aluko 37 years old traffic officer level 4 of 15, Oriwu Street, Ikorodu.
The trio was arrested following a complaint by one Babatunde Akinmolayan, a clearing agent for illegal apprehension of his container truck with number AA 553 NGW at Marina area of the Lagos Island and subsequent demand for eighty thousand naira bribe by the traffic officers before the vehicle could be released.
According to Akinmolayan, he was accompanying the container truck on Monday morning to deliver goods at Walter Carrington Street on Victoria Island, when the truck was forced to stop at Marina close to the State House by the three LASTMA officials in uniform working with some other men in mufti for driving the vehicle at unauthorised hours.
Akinmolayan said all pleas to allow the truck to go in order to meet with delivery time fell on deaf ears as the traffic officials and the men in mufti engaged him in fisticuffs, and the vehicle was eventually taken to Olowu removal yard of the agency on the Island, where they demanded for the sum of N80,000 before its release.
It took the intervention of the zonal head and payment of N7,000 to some men in mufti that the vehicle was eventually released and allowed to go.
In the same vein, the duo of Jimoh Olaosebikan and Emmanuel Padonu were arrested during the week by surveillance unit and provost officials of the agency in Okokomaiko and Mile 12 areas of the state respectively.
Olaosebikan was arrested by men of LASTMA surveillance team unit along the Lagos- Badagry Expressway for illegally collecting N20,000 from a female motorist whom he alleged to have made an illegal U-turn in Okokomaiko.
According to the motorist, “all explanations that other vehicles have been turning there before failed to convince him and efforts to see his superior officers in their office were frustrated by him, only for him to collect the sum of N20,000 from me before their surveillance team emerged from nowhere to arrest him.”
Padonu, on his part, was picked up by provost officials for using men in mufti to collect money from commercial drivers in the Mile 12 area of Kosofe Local Government of Lagos State on Wednesday morning.
The arrest was as a result of tip-off from members of the public who informed the agency that some traffic officials were conniving with men in mufti to arrest and collect money from commercial drivers in the area.
Speaking on the arrested officials, General Manager of LASTMA, Mr. Olawale Musa expressed dismay at the activities of unscrupulous elements within the agency and assured that with the assistance of members of the public such people will be eased off to protect the good name of the hard working officers who work assiduously to ensure free flow of traffic in Lagos.