8th August, 2011
Our attention has been drawn to the above headlined opinion article in your paper page nine, Monday, 1st August, 2011 edition, written by Prince Mukaila Apata-Akinsemoyin in which he urged the Lagos State Government to urgently dismantle and reassemble our organization and put a system in place with the aim of creating the right type of corporate culture with intent to reduce the likelihood of corruption and human rights violations.
The fact is that the writer of the article, Prince Mukaila Apata-Akinsemoyin came to my office on Thursday,21st July, 2011 reported to me that his Nephewâ€™s wares were packed away at Apapa while our officials were on operational exercise. He thereby sought my intervention in getting the goods released. I then sensitised him why our officials seized the wares. I told him that his nephew was engaging in street trading at Apapa, which is not allowed under the environmental sanitation law of the state, that street trading has been banned in Lagos and Prince Akinsemoyin was aware. I told him that it was because his nephew absconded that our officials packed his wares after he had abandoned the wares.
Then I took him to KAI Marshal Generalâ€™s office to inform my Boss about his appeal; but due to the fact that Marshal General was busy attending to other issues, he directed me to forward him to Deputy Head of Admin. who attended to him adequately and promised to assist him.
Prince Akinsemoyin was later informed that the goods he was claiming had been confiscated by the magistrateâ€™s court, and he was immediately taken to the Prosecutorâ€™s office who was in charge of the case. Prince Akinsemoyin was assured of assistance by the Prosecutor on compassionate ground but told him that due process must be followed. He told him to write and sign a letter of undertaking attached with the photocopies of his National Identity Card, passport Photograph and PHCN Bill to make easy for the court to contact him in case the court might need his presence in the future. But Mr. Akinsemoyin refused to write or sign the letter of undertaking but came with a government official who wrote and signed a letter guarantee, assuring that he would provide Mr. Akinsemoyin in case the Special Court might need him and Prince Akinsemoyin attached the photocopies of his National Identity Card and PHCN bill with the letter of guarantee signed by the government official he brought, and the wares were then released to him without paying any fine.
It then came to us as a shock to read an uncomplimentary article about our organization written by the man who came to our office for assistance in order to release his relativeâ€™s goods to him, which we did.
The central issue here which our critic seems to be shying away from, is that of illegal street trading which consequences border on law, safety and security. There are designated market places all around the city where people could trade, but some people have converted the Lagos Roads and streets into markets.
Our problem in Lagos and in Nigeria is the attitude of our people and with law. If you donâ€™t have people to enforce the law, it makes the law meaningless. So the KAI Brigade is supposed to make sure that people do not litter or put their goods where they are not supposed to. We are also to make sure that set-backs are kept so that people do not put their wares, kiosks on the high ways.
The KAI Brigade was established to effectively police and maintain the cleanliness of the Lagos environment, to ensure that there is no illegal trading and dumping of refuse in unauthorised places and above all, take total control of their assigned post. It is a balanced and well organised unit of the Ministry of the Environment. Two Special Mobile Senior Magistrateâ€™s Courts are attached to KAI, one at the headquarters and another at Eti-Osa Zonal Office in Obalende. The two courts are headed by Senior Magistrates and there are State Prosecutors (Law Officers) from the State Ministry of Justice and there are lawyers from office of Public Defender who defend the less privileged who could not afford to get the service of a private lawyers.
We assure Lagosians that any identified bad officer among the organization is weeded out, we are not going to tell you lies but we do not condone such illegal act. As soon as there are substantial evidences to prove any extortion, KAI Marshal General has the power to summarily dismiss that official involved in such gross misconduct, and he does not waste time in flushing out the bad eggs exposed. We do not harbour criminally-minded people that will smear the good name of Lagos State Government.
We face challenges of attacks on our officials by hoodlums and impersonation by some members of the public, that is not to say that there are no bad eggs in the Brigade like any other organisations, but we want to say that we are already restructuring and the Ministry of the Environment is going to make sure that KAI is what it should be.
However, the effectiveness of KAI Brigade in Lagos cannot be overemphasized or overlooked, sanity as well as caution is now the watchword of every Lagosians, the Fear of KAI Brigade is the beginning of wisdom for illegal street traders and hawkers on Lagos streets. Awareness of KAI duties and responsibilities has increased the consciousness to maintain a clean environment especially in our operational areas.
The success recorded in our operations carried out in Oshodi, Mile 12, Ketu, Aladiyo, Onipanu, Aswani, Obalende, Victoria Island, Airport Road, Agege Railway, Surulere, Apapa, among others has proved to both local and the international community that no matter the magnitude or the deplorable state of any area, the violating and political sentiment attached to such areas; the Brigade is capable of enforcing sanity and compliance with the environmental sanitation laws to any needed level and all these have contributed tremendously to the development of the Lagos environment.
â€¢Olusesi is PRO, KAI brigade