Extortion of motorists: LASTMA officer becomes scapegoat


Onipede Olusegun, a former official within the cream and wine wearing law enforcement agency, LASTMA, has been shown the door by Lagos State on allegations of extortion.

Onipede was about his job around Ojota, when according to him, he found vehicles parked indiscriminately at the bus-stop which resulted in a traffic build-up. He instructed the driver of the vehicle in the front to move, in order to ease traffic but the driver refused vehemently.

Onipede then snapped the vehicle with his phone (presumably to be used as evidence as is not unusual of LASTMA officials). On seeing this, the conductor held his hand and pleaded with him to delete the pictures.

Onipede reports that it was in the process of the conductor holding his hand while pleading that a passersby took the photograph and shared same on the social media.

As would be expected, this photo went viral and when the LASTMA Authority came across it, Onipede was accused of extortion (from the bus conductor) and was dismissed of his duties. He petitioned the Lagos State House of Assembly, pleading his innocence but the legislators, on Tuesday, returned a verdict confirming his dismissal.

This type of story, as told by Onipede is not uncommon around Lagos. In fact, anyone who commutes via Lagos Ikorodu road and passes through Ojota bus stop might be tempted to corroborate Onipede’s story.

The LASTMA Authorities were not having it though and one might even understand why. The traffic controlling agents are not feared for nothing on Lagos roads. Both by private and public transport drivers.

A LASTMA arrest may spell the end of a week’s earnings for a Danfo driver as impounded cars aren’t cheap to recover. Fines sometimes go as high as NGN25,000.

For private road users, depending on your clout, you might be able to talk your way out of an arrest but the most common story is one where an offending driver folds some thousands of Naira in the arresting officer’s palm.

Usually, this kick back is shared amongst the two or three officials that normally cluster around hidden corners, waiting patiently for their prey.

Lagosians are serial traffic offenders but we will not hesitate to pour it all on the LASTMA officials who also sometime over step boundaries. The amount to be paid as fine for the same offence may vary depending on the officer on duty or even the day when an offence is committed.

Fridays are generally high fine days. This could be because the officers ask for “something for the weekend” or the motorists are scared of letting their vehicles remain at the impound station through the weekend.

Onipede now serves as a deterrent for the many corrupt LASTMA officials roaming the roads of Lagos.

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