It was not palatable news recently when we learnt that an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr. Bakare Olatunji was killed by an irate mob following the death of a motor boy in the Apapa area of Lagos state.
According to reports, Olatunji, who was the zonal head of LASTMA, had led a team of officials to the area in a patrol van to arrest erring motorists at about 11am on that fateful day.
It was alleged that a LASTMA van was said to have ran into an assistant driver (motor boy) while he struggled to escape arrest. The boy who died on the spot, was reportedly sleeping by the roadside.
In its reaction, the Lagos state government condemned the murder in very strong terms. The State’s Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Prince Anofiu Elegushi condemned the brutal murder of the officer.
Elegushi, who spoke alongside the Chief Executive Officer of LASTMA, Mr. Chris Olakpe and the General Manager of the Agency, Bashir Braimoh, said “Officer Bakare did not lose his life to an accident. No!.
His life was taken by persons whose only response to an incident is to resort to “jungle justice” even when they were not sure of the play of event. Our officer was murdered by blood thirsty hounds who parade themselves as purveyors of transportation.”
In a similar vein, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has said it lost over 70 officers in 2016 to reckless drivers. Corps Marshal of FRSC, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, who made the announcement in Abuja at the FRSC end of the year management strategy session said that the FRSC officials were killed while performing their jobs.
He said that although the figure was lower, compared to the 160 deaths recorded in 2015, the trend was disturbing and needed to be addressed. “Losing 70 personnel is not a joke, may their souls rest in peace. It is sad to note that some killing and maiming of operatives, including those from sister agencies is very worrisome”.
Killing law enforcement officers is a serious offence that the government must not condone. Apart from depleting the limited number of road traffic officers, it also brings sorrow to their loved ones.
Jungle justice is definitely not the way forward. We join all well-meaning Nigerians to condemn this trend whereby erring motorists take laws into their hands. Motorists should explore avenues to seek redress whenever they feel short changed.
Management of law enforcing authorities should also strive to improve their working relationships with relevant stakeholders and continue to educate them on how to explore legitimate avenues to seek redress when needed.
LASTMA says it can be reached directly through this phone number 08129928646, just as the FRSC maintains a 24 hours toll free number-122.