Motorists flay FRSC Ogun command for extortion
As the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) marks its 20th anniversary, motorists plying Sango Ota-Abeokuta route, on the Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway, Ogun State have accused officials of the Ogun State Command of the corps of extortion.
They claimed that unpainted buses, wagon cars and others commercial vehicles loading at Ita-Oshin and Lafenwa parks, are worst affected as they are allegedly fleeced as much as N500 toll at every check point on their way to Abeokuta and on return to Lagos.
From Conoil Junction, Sango to Abeokuta, there are not less than seven different checkpoints mounted by men of the command. Apart from being stationed at Conoil Junction, they are also at Owode/Iyana-Ilogbo, Ilepa Junction; Techno Bus Stop in Ifo; Arigbajo, Gudugba/Abule-Oko; WAPCO, opposite the estate; Iyana-Egbado; Akinale; Aro Psychiatric Hospital Gate, and other makeshift checkpoints.
As a result of the proliferation of checkpoints along the route, some commercial drivers part with as much as N5, 000 per trip if they are forced to be “checked” at each of the checking points.
Interestingly, parting with bribes on this route is not a careless exercise as done in many places. Here, the drivers have to neatly tuck a N500 bill into their vehicle documents and present same to the concerned officer, while waiting for the officer to carefully take out the gratification while pretending to be perusing the car particulars. Most times, the exercise is carried out without passengers or prying eyes of passersby.
One of the drivers, Alhaji Tomiwa Hamed told The Guardian that the officials contribute to the high cost of transportation on the route, as the gratification has to be incorporated into fares paid by each commuter.
He also indicted them for being responsible for the traffic gridlock along the axis, stressing that besides the poor state of the road, pretending to check car papers while also looking out for the best moment to pick out their bribe usually contribute to creating artificial gridlock.
“The reason we can’t argue with these officials is because no matter how up-to-date or complete your car papers are, if they are not bribed, they would always find one fault or the other to trap you down, and eventually prosecute. Once this happens, you end up paying a huge fine and won’t be able to work until your vehicle is released.
“Some of these officers are not from this area because it is the Ewekoro Unit that ought to control the route from Arigbajo upwards, but these strange FRSC officials come from far places to mount checkpoints here. For instance, FRSC officials that are mounting checkpoint around Gudugba/Abule-Oko are from Ajuwon, but no one can question them. This is our fate and we have to endure,” he said.
Another commercial bus driver, Oladele Okunnu, expressed regrets that the corps officials now put up in bad spots along the road, including Conoil Junction, Owode, Ilepa, Techno and others, where they extort motorists while also causing traffic snarl and aggravating the problems of road users.
He called on appropriate authorities to investigate and call the offending officers to order.
When contacted on phone, the Ogun State Commander, Clement Oladele, who said one of the core values of the FRSC is transparency, stressed that no officer is expected to solicit, demand or collect bribe in the course of apprehending traffic offenders.
He said the consequences of doing otherwise smear not only the commission, especially the concerned officer, but the act was also at variance with Federal Government’s change agenda, and “diminishes our collective humanity. It impedes safety, debases sanity and erodes confidence and capability of law enforcement agencies.”
He continued, “The question to also ask is, why would a driver offer a bribe to an FRSC official to evade arrest if such a driver has a valid driver’s license, drives a well-maintained vehicle with valid papers and number plate, drives in strict conformity with traffic rules and regulations?
“While not condoning or justifying collection of bribe for whatever reason, such drivers cannot be cajoled or compelled to offer bribe on the highway. Series of self-cleansing measures have been taken and will continue to be introduced to dismiss any FRSC official or marshal that is found collecting bribe, or compromising in the discharge of his or her duties. The FRSC is an ISO 9001 QMS certified organisation. One of the hallmarks of ISO certified organisations is willingness to open up their internal processes for a third party evaluation,” he said.
While assuring that the FRSC will continue to live up to its value of transparency as the consequences of bribery were too grave to highway safety, he warned corrupt motorists that are in the habit of tempting FRSC officials with bribe on highways to desist as the FRSC has a provision to book such erring drivers, who attempt to corrupt FRSC marshals on patrol.
“The FRSC recently sacked 25 staff for bribery- related cases and more would be dismissed if the FRSC Disciplinary Panel finds them guilty of collecting bribes from motorists on the highway. Any complaint against any FRSC official or marshal can be texted directly to me on 08077690202. Alternatively, I can also be sent a personal email on firstname.lastname@example.org for prompt attention.
“The public, especially motorists are enjoined to put their vehicles in top notch conditions, properly licensed for the category of vehicles they drive and operate them in strict compliance to traffic regulations and refrain from tempting traffic officials on the highway and more importantly refuse to offer bribe where demanded.”
He noted that if motorists do the necessary things, highways in the state would become safer, thus leading to a better and safe Nigeria.
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