By Richard Akintade, Osogbo
Operatives of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) over the weekend nabbed another serial fake traffic officer in Ikoyi area of Lagos.
In a press statement released by the Director, Public Affairs Department of LASTMA Mr. Adebayo Taofiq, quoted the General Manager, Mr. Bolaji Oreagba, confirmed that the suspect was nabbed at Olu Holloway Road by Alfred Rewane area of Ikoyi by a LASTMA operatives.
Mr. Oreagba confirmed further that the agency carried out a special monitoring/surveillance operation about the suspect and got him arrested in response to complaints from motoring public (Obinna Kingsley and Adewusi Adebola) via LASTMA hotlines/social media handles.
Investigation conducted revealed that the arrested suspect has been extorting huge sum of money from motorists for various traffic offences ranging from seat-belt, obstructions, illegal over-taking and one-way at different locations around the Lagos Island.
“It is disheartening getting complaints from road users particularly motorists on activities of these unscrupulous elements impersonating and extorting money from them,” he said.
Mr. Oreagba urged the general public to be wary of these fake traffic officers, stating that the Agency operates a cashless policy as any violators apprehended are charged to court with a ‘referral notice’ issued to them.
“Let me warned motoring public to desists from inducing traffic officers in any form (money) as both the giver and taker are liable before the law.”
The General Manager however warned other impersonators disguising as LASTMA personnel to immediately desist from such illegal acts as more surveillance personnel have been strategically deployed to hunt for them.
The arrested suspect Mr. Omotutu Bamidele (55yrs) confessed to have been impersonating with a reflective jacket as a LASTMA officer and extorting money from motorists particularly private car owners/ drivers at highbrow areas across the state.
Mr. Bamidele who confirmed to be living with his junior brother inside in one of the Army Barracks in Lagos confessed further to have operated around Ikoyi, Obalende, Apongbon Bridge, Iporin, Olowu areas apprehending both commercial and private cars for various traffic infractions including driving against traffic (one-way).
The suspect who hailed from ‘Atijere Town’ in Ondo State said he and his colleagues are making an average of N35,000 from extortions on daily basis.
“Any motorists particularly private car owners I caught dropping someone at any undesignated bus stop paid between N15,000 to N20,000 while those caught for driving against traffic (one-way) paid a minimum of N35,000”
One Mr. Adewusi Adebola (a complainant) confirmed that the suspect apprehended him for ‘obstruction’ on the 6th of March, 2023 around Spac Bus stop by Awolowo Road, Ikoyi and collected N20,000 from him for dropping his colleagues.
While Obinna Kingsley complaint via one of the LASTMA social media handles (Twitter) that he was forced to transferred N50,000 to the arrested suspect for ‘Obstruction’ on Awolowo Road by Obalende Bridge towards Tafawa Balewa Square (T.B.S).
According to Mr. Adewusi Adebola owner of a Toyota Corolla (LSR 299 AY), “Honestly speaking I had written series of negative stories about activities of LASTMA on social media particularly on twitter since the ugly incidents happened until I was called by LASTMA management that the man I reported that extorted money from me was a fake traffic Officer and that he has been arrested.”
Meanwhile, the Director, Legal Department, LASTMA, Barr. Akerele Kehinde, disclosed that the arrested suspect would be charged to court with all items recovered from him (fake identity card & a reflective jacket) on Monday, 27th of March, 2023, in accordance with the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State.