A Nigerian Army General on Sunday reportedly pulled his gun at an official of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) who had flagged him for driving against traffic along the Nyanya-Mararaba route in the territory.
Following this development, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Ministerial Task team on Traffic Management has announced stricter measures to ensure route compliance in the face of continued intimidation of its operatives by armed uniform personnel.
Chairman of the Task Team, Mr. Ikharo Attah who disclosed this at a news conference Wednesday in Abuja said the work of his team would have been made easier courtesy of the cooperation from the civilian population, lamented that armed uniform operatives have become a law unto themselves.
Although the FCT minister, Malam Muhammadu Musa Bello had recently approved a “name and shame” policy for traffic offenders in spite of their status, Mr. Attah said his Task team is also collaborating with the Military Police who would assist in meeting appropriate sanctions on erring military personnel.
Attah, who was flanked by representatives of various security agencies as well as the Chief Security Officer to the FCT minister, Rasheed Ahmed, also recalled how some personnel of the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS had once assaulted the Divisional Police Officer DPO of Karu Division for stopping their official bus from parking wrongly on the expressway.
He said; “We have the problem of roadside trading which we have almost successfully tackled. The other problem now which I know that the DPO of Karu and the DPO of Nyanya, as well as the Kugbo and Karu component of the Directorate of Road Traffic Services DRTS, are battling is the issue of those going against traffic – the one-way drivers. And we have agreed among us that they are largely done by uniform personnel. We are not disputing that.
On the first day our operation commenced in Nyanya, some officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS beat up the DPO of Karu for telling them not to park on the road.
They came down from their bus, attacked him, tore his clothes because they felt they were Correctional Service personnel and were wearing uniforms. Subsequently, the DPO Karu and the FRSC have been battling both police and military personnel on the slope to the point that the Commissioner of Police and some senior officers had to go there in person to ensure enforcement.
“Last Sunday when we had a problem at Kugbo, we had a very rough encounter with some uniform personnel. We were there when the Corps Marshall of the FRSC arrived at the scene to monitor his men and a General in the Nigerian Army brought out a gun to threaten a road safety official that he would shoot him, and the Corps Marshall had to advise that the road safety official looked at safety first.
But we are pushing hard. The beauty of it is that we are getting the military police, Col. Madaki and his men who can punish their own and we know that is going to help us greatly.
“There was a day the DPO Nyanya had to stop an AIG and the people there were jumping up. They were so sure that he would lose his job that day, but along the line, the AIG had to turn back.
That very day, the CP was on the hill at Kugbo with the DRTS Director and FRSC Sector Commander, stopping and turning Generals back from taking one way.
Law enforcement officers are paid to maintain the law and not to break the law. It is not right because they are putting their own colleagues on the field under pressure. Next time when they take one way and block the road, we will abandon the roads for them and call their superiors to come and meet them on the road.
“The other challenge is those riding trailers. We asked them not to drive at peak periods. The minister is personally unhappy with that. We need to brace up and ensure that they are off-road at such periods because aside from causing more gridlock, when their brakes fail, the casualties are always high and it is usually difficult to evacuate them amidst heavy traffic.
“There was also a case of suspected theft the other day, where a tanker driver had emptied his contents somewhere else and then left only a little inside the tank and came to deliberately crash the vehicle at Nyanya.
The whole place was thrown into confusion with people running, fearing that the tanker could explode while on our part we were also making efforts to cordon the area not knowing that he had diverted the file elsewhere before and then came to crash the tanker so that it would look like he lost his fuel in the accident” Attah added.
According to him, in the past six months, the rate of accidents on the road has reduced by about 70 percent unlike when accidents were regular occurrences on the route.