By Samuel Olomu
Just today, on my way to Ikeja around the Iyana Ipaja side of Lagos State, I encountered a LASTMA officer who warned a ‘danfo driver’ of violating traffic laws. In his words, “let’s make this state a better place”. This has come into play with the level of reckless driving, blatant traffic violations and other serious road offences which happens on a daily basis in the metropolitan city of Lagos.
Yesterday, the Lagos State Task Force in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Justice auctioned 134 forfeited and abandoned vehicles at the Taskforce compound in Alausa, Ikeja for various traffic offences which has sparked many reactions across the media.
Yes, I am moved with pity for the sad complaining voice of wounded souls who instead of hiding in the bosom of the law had gone that far to bend the sword of the rule of law. These vehicles were seized for various traffic offences ranging from driving on one-way to willful obstruction of traffic flow across various parts of the state. Some of the cars being auctioned here were confiscated for obstruction of traffic which only attracts a fine, but some people never showed up to claim these cars that is why they have been forfeited to the State Government after the stipulated period and then auctioned.
It is pertinent to state that, the role of the Lagos Taskforce is to conduct enforcement exercises which are the confiscation of vehicles for traffic offenses and handing them over to the MOBILE COURT (With evidence) for judgment. This auction exercise is to desist the public from committing crimes or traffic offenses as no one would be spared if found wanting. He says he hopes that this exercise would serve as a deterrent to other road users who are fond of driving against traffic.
At first, I was moved by the tears that gushed out of their beautiful faces; but do not take this as a support for the impunity perpetrated by these violators. It is just the human aspect of me that is at work, but the law is blindfolded. However, in the interest of the rule of law which presupposes that every action should be done according to law, I am totally against the blatant violation of traffic law.
We have traffic laws in Nigeria and particularly in the Lagos State, a breach of which attracts a sanction. This is done in the interest of the rule of Law and according to the spirit of the law. Section 2(5)(i)(ii) of the Lagos State Road Traffic Law 2012 provides the consequences for these violations as follows:
(5) Any person who fails to comply with any of the provisions of this Section commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to —
(i) Imprisonment for a term of three (3) years or to render community service in accordance with the provisions of Section347 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State; and
(ii) Have his vehicle forfeited to the State.
This is the clear and unambiguous position of the law, and no one should add emotions to this trite principle.
Yes, everything happens in Lagos, the good and bad. Different people of different climes and status, different perspectives, and behavior and in fact different stances. Lagos can be funny.
Factually, a wall where it is inscribed boldly “do not urinate” will be the most attractive place to do that dirty thing by some unyielding Lagosians. Some drivers believe in beating traffic by taking a one way after a clear warning has been placed on such road describing it as not open for passage.
This time, I might not be in the shoes of most Nigerians even though I also appeal to pity the affected persons, but the right thing must be done. It is what the law says and not how we think it should and be so, we should try as much as possible not to shy away from the trite provision of the law by justifying what ought not to be. I will submit.