No fewer than five officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority have been arrested for allegedly extorting money from some motorists in the state.
The PUNCH learnt that many other officials of the agency were before a disciplinary committee for various acts of misconduct.
The Public Affairs Officer of LASTMA, Mahmud Hassan, on Sunday identified the arrested officials to include a level seven traffic officer, Bamidele Sheu (48); a level five officer, Ope Adisa (32) and a level four officer, Babatunde Aluko (37).
Two others, Jimoh Olaosebikan and Emmanuel Padonu, were reportedly arrested by the surveillance unit of LASTMA at Okokomaiko and Mile 12 areas of the state respectively.
Hassan said the first three men were apprehended following a complaint by a clearing agent, Akinmolayan Babatunde, whose truck was impounded by the men who demanded N80,000 bribe from him.
Babatunde reportedly stated that he was accompanying the truck on Monday to deliver goods on Walter Carrington Street, Victoria Island, when the truck was stopped at Marina by the three LASTMA officials.
“Akinmolayan (Babatunde) said all pleas to allow the truck to go in order for him to meet up with delivery time fell on deaf ears as the traffic officials and other men in mufti engaged him in fisticuffs. He said the vehicle was eventually taken to the Olowu yard of the agency on the Lagos Island, where N80,000 was demanded.
“After the intervention of the zonal head and after parting with N7,000 to some men in mufti, the vehicle was eventually released,” Hassan added.
The fourth arrested official, Olaosebikan, was said to have been arrested at Okokomaiko along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway for illegally collecting N20,000 from a female motorist.
The LASTMA official had accused her of making an illegal U-turn at Okokomaiko.
“All explanations that other vehicles had been turning there failed to convince him, only for him to collect N20,000 bribe before a surveillance team arrested him,” the agency spokesperson said.
The fifth official, Padonu, was allegedly picked up for using some hoodlums to collect money from commercial drivers at Mile 12.
Hassan said over 20 officials of the agency had been dismissed in 2017 for misconduct, adding that many others were before the discipline committee for unwholesome behaviour.
The General Manager of LASTMA, Mr. Olawale Musa, said with the assistance of members of the public, the bad eggs in the system would be removed to protect the good name of the agency.
“LASTMA officials on duty are always in uniforms with names conspicuously displayed on their breast pockets. Motorists should ignore anybody not in uniform claiming to be a LASTMA official,” he added.