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Prosecute attackers of LASTMA personnel

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Sir: Sometime in October last year, it was reported that a Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) official was assaulted on duty. The incident happened at a time LASTMA as an agency of the state government was still counting its losses after the violent aftermath of EndSARS protests, an officer of the agency, Ismaila Lukman, while on duty at Jakande junction in Lekki, was attacked by some troublemakers who chose to challenge and dare the authority of a traffic controller statutorily carrying out his duties as enshrined in the Act that established LASTMA.

In his reaction to the assault last year, the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, said, “As we are quick to prosecute LASTMA officials who misbehave, we must be quicker to prosecute those found culpable of attacking LASTMA officials.” The State House of Assembly speaker made it clear that the security of LASTMA personnel is paramount, to enable them perform their duties without fear of being attacked by any unruly motorist.

Not too long ago, the Federal House of Representatives began deliberations on how to equip the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) marshals with defensive weapons. Arming traffic personnel might actually not be the best for now as technology could be deployed to capture lawless road users without having to scare them with protective weapons.

Violent attacks and assaults on traffic controllers and managers did not just start today. This year alone, the agency has lost two of its men to such unwarranted and senseless attacks by lawless motorists. Some months ago, Samson Olawale Akinmade was deliberately knocked down by a careless motorist at Mile 12, Ketu area, against a concrete culvert on the service lane and dragged for some meters on the road. He was later reported dead. At Anthony in March this year, along Ikorodu road in Lagos, Obazu Olusegun Godwin was hacked to death by some mini bus drivers (popularly called “Korope”) who were suspected to be cultists. Obazu was attacked with machetes and other dangerous weapons. He eventually died. Some other LASTMA officers were lucky to have narrowly escaped the violent attacks at Anthony as well too.

Justice is expected in the days ahead from the appropriate agencies handling the various cases involving assaults on unarmed traffic personnel. The killers of the slain officers must be made to face the full wrath of the law. Prosecution of the arrested culprits in connection with attacks on LASTMA personnel would sure send a strong warning signal to violent motorists and the motoring public at large who find pleasure in disrespecting and disobeying uniformed officers and would also serve as deterrent to others with such motives. This way, the continued rising attacks on LASTMA officials will be nipped in the bud.
 Kayode Ojewale is of the Public Affairs Unit of LASTMA.

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