10th January, 2014
Four staff of Ikosi-Isheri Local Council Development Area, LCDA, have been arrested for allegedly extorting money from motorists under the guise that they are traffic officers.
In two days of their operation, the four suspects had extorted about N180,000 by fining motorists they arrested illegally.
The fines range from N20,000 to N30,000.
Those arrested are Balogun Fatai, Ayo Fapohunda, Oyetunji Olabisi and Rahimi Kamilu. They have been arraigned at the Special Offences Court in Alausa, Lagos, western Nigeria.
They met their waterloo when they attempted to extort money from a motorist at Lagos tollgate. The motorist reported the matter at the taskforce office which led to the arrest of the suspected culprits.
According to Tony Nanewodo, owner of Mercedes Benz C-Class 2013 model, he was arrested at the tollgate for stopping to ease himself, but lamented that he was issued ticket for picking up a passenger on the road, an act he never committed.
“They asked me to give them N30,000 and that if I allowed them to take me to the council, I will be charged N70,000. I told them I don’t have such money and they asked me to bring N10,000, which I did not give them.
“They took me to their office and issued a ticket of N30,000 for me to pay. I didn’t pay them and I lodged a complaint at the state government secretariat. I asked them to give me an account number to pay the money into, but they got angry with me,” he explained.
Taskforce Chairman, Bayo Sulaiman, a Chief Superintendent of Police, said residents in Ikosi-Isheri had been complaining of harassment and extortion by council officials who were not law enforcement agents.
“People have been crying out over undue extortion and this is giving the government bad image. Our operatives went underground and marked some money and gave it to them and they collected the money,” he explained. The taskforce chairman stated that local government officials did not have the right to extort money from motorists, saying they had been warned against this several times.
He said council officials arrest motorists over flimsy reasons in order to collect money from them, adding that they even had towing vehicle with which they tow vehicles of their vicrims.
One of the suspects, Fatai, said they remit the money collected to the purse of the council and that the council employed the services of a consultant to help in collecting the money from motorists.