Lagos motorists lament alleged extortion by police, LASTMA

Lagos motorists lament alleged extortion by police, LASTMA

Lagos road users have bemoaned the increasing rate of extortion by policemen and officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority.

PUNCH Metro gathered that on different social media platforms on Tuesday, motorists and commuters, who shared their ordeals, stated that the problem persisted because of the complicity of the authorities and lack of deterrence in the system.

The reaction followed an investigation by PUNCH Metro on a syndicate made up of policemen and LASTMA officers in the Berger-Isheri area of Lagos.

Newsmen who disguised as a hawker and sold popcorn and face masks in traffic, observed for four hours as the group exploited motorists seeking to connect from the Berger-Isheri Road to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

This reporter noted that the green arrow of the old traffic light ran for about 20 seconds before indicating the amber and the red light.

Motorists, who left the waiting lane between 17th and 19th seconds, when the green light was still on, were arrested as soon as they got to the road linking the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

It was also observed that LASTMA officers and policemen stopped motorists and pointed their attention to the traffic light, which by then had turned red.

The motorists were stopped on the instruction of a pot-bellied man in mufti, who entered the vehicles.

A resident with the alias, 9ja Daddy, who seemed familiar with the syndicate, described the “pot-bellied” official as a multi-millionaire who had been operating at the junction for about eight years.

He said, “There are three extortion points there. Point 1 is the one mentioned. It is the exit towards Lagos-Ibadan expressway. It is controlled by Olowoira policemen. Hours of operation is just after 0500hrs.

“The dark guy in mufti on the right stopping the Land Rover is the head of the team. He is a multi-millionaire. He and his deputy have never worn a police uniform in eight years now. The other short policeman is an accomplice. There is another tall slim one in police uniform always wearing orange helmet.

“Then there are also two traffic wardens; the pot-bellied one (formerly at Omole Roundabout) and “slender Ojo” who rides a rickety motorcycle and lives at Ivenagbor Street, Ojodu (he has about six danfos plying Ojodu to Ogba/Ikeja). They will stop you midway on green then arrest you for red-light infraction.”

A reader, who identified himself as Akata, said LASTMA officers always extorted money from motorists at the FESTAC Town.

“The one that those criminal agents called LASTMA usually perpetrate at FESTAC Town by 1st gate, where we have a Nipco gas station and Apple Junction is terrible,” he stated.

On Twitter, a reader, Lumidee, said there was another syndicate operating on the Lekki-Epe Expressway.

“It is almost everywhere in Lagos now, and that’s how they do. They are on Lekki-Epe Expressway too. All of them are even fond of doing videos; the camera would capture u with the red light after you have passed,” he wrote.

A Facebook user, Usman Olalekan, described the extortion by policemen and LASTMA officers at the Iyana Ipaja Motor Park as “outrageous”.

“It is a business centre for those policewomen there. They collect money without fear, every minute,” he wrote.

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