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Revealed! How monstrous Lagos TOCU officials are extorting millions of naira from motorists

TOCU 1

Some vehicles impounded by TOCU

*We’ve arrested some unscrupulous TOCU officials – LASG

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Some officials of the Transport Operations Compliance Unit (TOCU), an arm of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, have become monsters as they extort millions of naira from innocent Lagos motorists who fall into their traps.

The work of TOCU is simple, they are to place removal notices on abandoned vehicles found impeding traffic in some parts of the Lagos metropolis, but they are not doing that, they are apprehending vehicles that are not abandoned.

They even arrest vehicles with their drivers inside them and take them to a secret location where they are extorted and made to pay fines ranging from N30,000 and above. On a daily basis officials of the unscrupulous unit impound dozens of vehicles for extortion.

Monstrous TOCU officials extort money from motorists
One of the operating vehicles of the unit

One Engr. Ade, a motorist who had an encounter with officials of the unit on 28 August, 2023 had a bitter story to tell. “On August 28, 2023, an unfortunate encounter unfolded involving LASG’s Transport Operations Compliance Unit (TOCU). While parked near a kiosk on Allen Avenue Road, I sought directions from a vendor. Suddenly, a towing vehicle arrived with four men. They seized my car, and we were taken to an undisclosed location.

“At the back seat, I learnt my offence was crossing a “yellow line.” Despite the circumstances, I refrained from arguing. After reaching a gas station at “Odo Iya Alaro,” area of Ojota, I realized it wasn’t an official government facility,” he explained.

Ade added that from his observations, six vehicles were present, with at least one arriving every 20 minutes, escorted into the open space yard, saying that patrol vehicles with Lagos State Government branding escorted vehicles, with each team having four to five members.

“An elderly Asian man faced a similar ordeal, making calls before paying, he had to be escorted out by one of the ladies to make withdrawals for cash payments. The operation seemed aimed at extorting money, tarnishing the State’s image.

“The legality of TOCU’s actions is questionable; possibly backed up by some State officials. My vehicle was released after contacting a senior official. They declined to give me the official receipt to go and make payments for the N30k demanded; they used a delay tactic to keep me waiting so I could buckle to their demands.

An Asian man who vehicle was impounded by TOCU officials

“This incident reflects broader exploitation by such individuals. The average monthly amount raked at that location is a minimum of N12 million (20 vehicles times N30K each for 5 days per week, times 4 weeks/month),” he narrated.

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He pleaded with the state government to work to guide against such exploitation, by unscrupulous government officials.

Reacting to the extortions by TOCU officials, Permanent Secretary, Lagos Ministry of Transportation, Engr. Abdulhafiz Toriola said the government in recent times, had been inundated with illegal activities of TOCU officials.

He said the government had unfortunately found out that TOCU officials had deviated from their intended duties.

Some motorists whose vehicles were impounded

“Instead of following their directive to place removal notices on abandoned vehicles found impeding traffic in some parts of the State, they were reported to have apprehended some motorists and engaged in extortion.

“The Lagos State Ministry of Transportation takes these allegations very seriously and swift actions have been taken to address the situation. The Officials involved in this inappropriate behaviour have been apprehended and are currently under investigation,” Toriola said.

He assured the public that such actions did not represent the ethical standards the ministry upheld as the primary goal of the TOCU is to ensure the smooth flow of traffic, promote road safety, and enforce compliance with relevant transportation regulations.

“The Ministry acknowledges that the actions of a few individuals should not tarnish the reputation of the entire Unit, which consists of many dedicated professionals committed to serving the public.

“Moving forward, the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation is committed to the implementation of measures that will prevent such incidents from occurring again. This includes reinforcing proper training and ethical conduct among its officials.

“Also in this category of reports are some fake officials operating under the guise of the banned Removal of Abandoned Vehicle Committee and TOCU apprehending innocent motorists and extorting them. The Ministry encourages the public to report any instances of misconduct or extortion they encounter from these charades of Officers, as their cooperation is essential in maintaining transparency and accountability,” Toriola added.

He said the Ministry extended its gratitude to the public for their vigilance in reporting these incidents, as it reflected the strong partnership between the government and the people of the State.

“By holding Officials accountable for their actions, the Ministry aims to restore trust and confidence in the Enforcement Agencies responsible for ensuring transportation compliance and safety within the State,” he said.

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