On Tuesday, May 2 2017, while on my way to the University of Lagos, en-route Oshodi from Ota; Ogun State, I got to Oshodi around 6:35AM, drove straight to the area clearly demarcated as car park (where vehicles going to Mushin normally load – just immediately after Oshodi Under-Bridge) to drop off my friend. Immediately, my friend alighted, a vehicle (obviously hijacked) came from no-where to block me, a closer look at the vehicle revealed the identities of the occupants, they were Men of the Nigerian Police Force on illegal duties. One slim rag-tagged man working for the said Policemen alighted from the said vehicle (Police Thug) and forcefully seized my car key. The policemen that carried out the illegal duties were Taofeek Sanusi, Hammed Isaah and Ogunmodede Taiwo.
I went down to meet the Policemen in order to enquire what my offence was at a clearly designated car park as early as 6:35am. Their response was that “you should have move closer to the Danfos”. I identified myself with my official Bank ID card and also informed them that I was going for a crucial 7:00AM meeting in my office. ‘ENTER THE BACK AND TALK WITH US’ they said as though they had rehearsed it together. ‘I don’t have any money to give you’. I replied.
They became furious. They drove my vehicle against the traffic (and followed one-way) towards Town Planning way, back to Oshodi and parked my Vehicle at one of the LASTMA Compounds along Anthony Way. Meanwhile, I had hurriedly taken down their names as Taofeek Sanusi, Hammed Isaah and Ogunmodede Taiwo before they become the ‘unknown policemen’. They told me to pay Ten Thousand Naira cash for my offence and advised that I should either use the ATM or borrow money from one Aboki and deposit my phones – one of their agents strategically located around the LASTMA office. Since I wasn’t forthcoming with their suggestions, they ‘deposited’ me and my vehicle at the LASTMA office to carry out further illegal operations. Others that were similarly arrested illegally shared their experience with me, it was pathetic.
After so many hours, one LASTMA official by the name Mr. Kadri (A senior officer of LASTMA though sounded nice and professional) came to address us. He affirmed the illegality of the work done by these officers even beyond the aforementioned three, he told us that the Policemen were posted to provide support services for LASTMA officials during their operations but unfortunately, the Policemen have constituted themselves into a ‘constituted authority’ who has constantly brought shame to LASTMA Office, they act on their own and carry out their raids without LASTMA input.
After Mr Kadri’s address, I introduced myself to him and explained my ordeal to him, He thereafter advised that I go to my work place and come back after close of work, we exchanged telephone numbers. After the close of business, I put a call through to him and he told me to come and collect my key; unfortunately, they have closed before I got to their office and the person designated as ‘key-custodian’ had also closed. I had no other option than to sleep in their office, I slept on the floor but the sleep refused to come. The Gateman -Alhaji Ibrahim was very nice to me throughout the night. One thing that I noticed was that there was a clear division of duties and responsibilities amongst all the illegal participants with each stage requiring the payment of cash.
As early as 5:40AM on Wednesday, my vehicle tyres were inflated (sensing trouble) by the joint coalition of the men there and I ended up paying N500 in order to move my vehicle out. The three illegal Policemen were nowhere to be found after apparently concluding that ‘I was a bad market’ for them.
I am very sure that this is not the Lagos at 50 dream of Governor Ambode.
Written by Femi Alabi, a Postgraduate Student of the University of Lagos