The Lagos State Police Command has apprehended two men, Funsho Williams and Adekogbe Olabode, for allegedly impersonating officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the suspects last Wednesday accosted a 62-year-old retiree, Mr. Felix Adesanya, and demanded N60, 000 from him for allegedly contravening a traffic law.
The man, who retired from the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, said he was on his way to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital when he was accosted by the suspects.
He said on getting to Akilo Road in the Ogba area of the state, the suspects, wearing reflective jackets, stopped his Toyota Camry and snatched N30, 000 from him after ransacking his car.
Not done, the suspects allegedly demanded an extra N30, 000 so that he would not forfeit his vehicle as stipulated in the traffic law.
He said, “They said I had committed a traffic offence and forcefully entered the vehicle, introduced themselves as LASTMA officials. They later demanded my wallet, ransacked it and took N30,000 with a threat to take me to their office if I did not cooperate and summed up the money to N60,000.
“In order to meet up with my appointment, I went on my knees begging for mercy, but they said I should take them to the nearest ATM or face the risk of forfeiting my vehicle and paying a N120,000 fine.
“Left between the deep-blue sea and the devil, I followed them obediently. At the ATM, they demanded to know my account balance, but I did not allow them see it, I withdrew N5, 000 and gave it to them, making it N35, 000 in all.”
The victim said while in the vehicle, the suspects continued to pester him and when they alighted and flagged down a commercial motorcycle, he raised the alarm.
He said one of the suspects clung to a moving commercial bus in a bid to escape when a team of LASTMA officials in a patrol van intercepted them.
Giving an account of the incident, a LASTMA official, Jonathan Arewa, said around 8.15am, he and his team were able to apprehend the suspects.
He said, “A young man in a white shirt was chased by an angry mob, who caught and handed him over to us. The crowd accused him of robbing a man of N35, 000 in collaboration with another man who was at large as of that time.
“It took the concerted efforts of the police and the LASTMA team to stop the mob from lynching them. The suspects were taken to Area F Command for further investigation.”
Reacting to the incident, the LASTMA boss, Mr. Babatunde Edu, condemned the act and maintained that the impostors were not employees of the agency.
He explained that the agency would continue to embark on an aggressive public enlightenment campaign to educate Lagosians on how to identify a genuine LASTMA official and not “fall prey to impostors who are out to enrich themselves under the pretence of working for the state.”
Edu explained that LASTMA officials were to be in uniform at all times with visible name tags. He added that no officer must cover his or her name tag with beret, pen or other items, and motorists had the right to ask for an official’s identity “as anything short of this is illegal and must be reported to the authority”.