Anger as 2,000 people bid for 134 seized vehicles
• Bidders pay N2,000 each for form
• Lagos task force warns traffic offenders, boasts of 95 per cent compliance on Okada ban
It was like a commodity market, yesterday, as about 2,000 people made bid for 134 vehicles auctioned by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice and the state’s Task Force through Crlimited Auction House at the Task Force yard, Ikeja, Lagos.
The vehicles were seized in the last one year by the Task Force for various offences, ranging from obstruction of traffic, one-way driving, dangerous driving and others.
To qualify for the bid, the Auction House charged a non-refundable fee of N2, 000 each to applicants. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Auction House, Onanuga Adewunmi started the bid of each vehicle at N100,000.
While the exercise was on, an elderly man alongside his wife came forward with a vehicle particulars to plead for his car to be released, but his plea fell on deaf ears as his commercial bus known popularly as Danfo was bid for N370,000.
Bidders, who were not pleased with the process, accused the Auction House and the Task Force of fraud and running a non-transparent bidding. They also accused them of selling at higher prices.
An angry bidder, Animashaun Adesina, who came from Ibadan, Oyo State, said: “This is far from the auction that we are used to. The price is too high. N800,000 was offered for a mini-bus, but we don’t know its condition, they also bid N3.2 million for a vehicle, currently being sold for N3.5 million.
Another man, Ogundele Ajayi, said: “They have concluded on the prices before making the bid public. My friend bought a Highlander Sports Utility Van (SUV) Limited for N120,000 at Alagbon three years ago. So, why are they selling a korope for N1.5 million? They just wasted our time and collected N2, 000 from each person.
But, the man whose bus was offered for N370,000, Lateef Kolapo told The Guardian that he had visited the Task Force office severally, but he was told that the chairman had taken over his vehicle and nothing could be done.
He claimed that officers collected N94,000 from them, when the person who drove the bus was arrested. But coordinator of the mobile court told The Guardian that his claim is not possible.
Speaking on the process, Chairman, Lagos State Environmental and Special Offence Unit (Task Force), Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Sola Jejeloye, said: “The process started more than a year ago, because the process needed to be scrutinised and challenged. At times, because of confrontation with owners of vehicles we will feel like they cannot suffer two punishments. So, most of the vehicles have been in the yard for more than a year.
“If a person commits a minor offence, he or she should be bold to come, but there are some abandoned vehicles whose owners left because of a N25,000 fine, but they ran away because of fear.
“When they commit an offence, they should go to court because nobody is interested in another man’s vehicle. We are in this position today and we will go back to the public tomorrow. So, that is why we try to follow due process. We are not doing this for personal gains. All the money is going into the government’s coffers.”
On the number of vehicles auctioned, he said: “We are auctioning 134 vehicles, out of that number, we have 10 tricycles and others in different categories.
“ I am warning motorists to be careful because many people, as we can see here today, are waiting to buy their property and they might not be lucky to get them back.
“Most of our operations are not friendly. So, people should be careful. Traffic offences are not critical offences. When you commit a traffic offence, be bold to come to the office to clear yourself in the court and tell the magistrate why the offence was committed. There are several cases that were struck out because the offenders were able to convince the magistrate. So, vehicle owners must know how not to accept defeat before the battle starts.”
On the ban on Okada’s operation, he said: “We can sense some peace in Lagos since the ban. Okada ban enforcement is not abstract, everyone can see it and it is above 95 per cent compliance, and it got better when the second phase was released. It became better when the Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi said both the riders and passengers would be prosecuted. So far, a medical doctor became a victim and was sent to a correctional centre. Lawyers are also victims.
Also, Coordinator, Lagos State Special Offences (Mobile Court) Arinola Ogbara-Benjoko, said: “We appointed a proper auctioneer and went through the proper procedure.
“Everything was transparent. The registration started on Monday and we have over 1,000 bidders.”