Posted by News Express | 4 October 2020 | 387 times
In recent time, Lagosians have seriously complained about the operational mode of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA); Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS), and other affiliate traffic agencies in the state.
There’s no day or week that passes without complaints from motorists, bothering on high-handedness, extortion and brutality of motorists on Lagos roads by officials of these agencies, who they claimed have turned themselves into monsters. The trending maxim on the lips of motor¬ists in the state is, “the fear of LASTMA is the beginning of wisdom”.
Road users are complaining bitterly about the appall¬ing behaviour of LASTMA, VIO and KAI officials, vis-à-vis their rules of engagement, as they alleged that the officials often seize vehicles and motorcycles without disobeying traffic laws, and in turn allegedly ask for money to get them released. LASTMA officials are also alleged to be conniving with touts to fleece motorists.
They seem to ask; is the government aware of the general complaints of briberies, extortions and unruly behaviours of these officials? Are these agencies of government now revenue yielding with daily targets?
A judgment was delivered in August 2019 by a Court of Appeal in Lagos against LASTMA, ruling that the imposition of fines by the agency was illegal.
The court, while ruling on the appeal filed by the Lagos State Government to challenge the decision of the Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Lagos in 2011, held that imposition of penalties by LASTMA ultra vires its power, especially where no platform was established to observe the principles of natural justice.
Justice Abang added that sections 9, 11, 12 and 13 of the law establishing LAST¬MA was unconstitutional and of no effect, just he held that while the agency has the power to arrest traffic offenders, it does not have the powers to impose fine on them, insisting that instead, it is a court of law that has such powers.
He submitted that the imposition of fine on any traffic offender by LASTMA amounted to being a judge in its own case and that the four sections of its law were contrary to Section 36 of the Constitution, which gives the right of fair hearing to every Nigerian.
“Sections 9, 11, 12, and 13 of the law establishing LASTMA are unconstitu¬tional. They are against the spirit of the Section 36 of the Constitution, which gives the right of fair hear¬ing to every Nigerian. More¬over, that would amount to being a judge in your own cause,” the judge held.
The entire motoring public were elated when in May 2017, the then Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode ordered officials of the VIS to leave Lagos roads, paving way for the introduction of technology in the execution of their duties.
In his words Ambode had said, “It has become evident that these agencies contribute to the traffic challenges on our roads. We will employ technology to track and monitor vehicle registration and MOT certifications.”
The then governor also advised the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to restrict their operations to highways and stay off streets in the Lagos metropolis. (Sunday Independent)
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