The high rate of criminal activities; armed robbery, maiming, etc on Nigerian roads has led to the loss of several lives and property. In order to curb this dangerous trend the number of security and transport officials has been buoyed all over major cities in Nigeria.
However transport officials have been tainted by accusations of high handedness and graft. It is a common belief that the vehicular highway is the highway to prosperity, as much as traffic control and management is concerned. All about roads in the country, it is no secret that traffic officers make a fortune of road users. Fines which are collected on the spot from erring road users range from as low as 20 naira to hundreds of thousands. Most times offenders are proven guilty before they are even accused.
The table was however turned when an official of LASTMA (Lagos state transport Management Authority) was sentenced to 4 years in prison without an option of fine; he was convicted for accepting 10,000 naira. The security official claimed it was a gift for a previous good deed.
‘Injustice’ he cried out as he was led out of the dock. A cry that the Lagos state government replied to, saying that this is a litmus test that would serve as a deterrent to other criminal minded LASTMA officials. If the truth be told, the custard coloured road umpires have never really been in the good books of Lagosians. The rule of thumb for LASTMA hasn’t always really been proactive rather it has been insidiously reactive. The road user is subtly lured into committing a traffic offense and then made to part with cash on the spot. It is doubtful if the monies are remitted to the state’s coffers
Now this is not to excuse the erring road user; it is commonly said, if you can drive in Lagos, you can drive anywhere in the world. Road users have a part to play in this blame game. Many are unaware of existing traffic regulations, laws and fines, and would rather pay an ex-gratia gift to a transport official than appear before a traffic magistrate. Surprisingly the laws are clear, plain and the fines aren’t as expensive as the road side bankers want us to believe
The proper question to ask is this, how ethical is it to receive gifts for doing your job? The traffic official argued that it was a gift. But the judge reading between the lines like we all know, assumed that the Transport official had received the money for helping to break a traffic regulation
Indeed for the Government, this is a story with immense ramifications for its fight against graft and corruption by public officials. However cynics have scoffed saying, 10, 000 naira pales in comparison to the billions of naira being looted from the nation’s public coffers; arguing that traffic offenses and outright negligence have led to the loss of lives but then monies denied to infrastructural development have wreaked more havoc on the country’s populace