By Olasunkanmi Akoni
In line with its zero tolerance for acts of indiscipline, the Lagos State Management Authority, LASTMA, said plans have been concluded to take all of its identified officers accused of bribery and extortion as well as other infractions of rules of engagement before a disciplinary committee called Personnel Management Board.
Acting under the extant laws of the public service rules the agency stated that the move became necessary following conclusion of full investigation into the matter.
LASTMA’s investigation was set in motion after a viral video on social media showing a couple of officers, collecting money from arrested traffic offenders based on the order of a senior officer, with the face of a lady, consistently showing on the screen, counting the extorted money.
One of the alleged traffic offenders who posted the video claimed hundreds of thousands of naira were collected from about five offenders without receipts indicating that the money paid as fine had been remitted into government’s coffers.
Consequently, LASTMA set up an investigation into the allegation with a view to identifying all the alleged officers and be brought to justice.
The agency, therefore, via its verified Twitter handle @followlastma, announced that the affected officers would face the disciplinary panel for appropriate sanctions.
In the tweet by LASTMA, three officers were paraded, two ladies and a male. The post read in part: “Investigation into the recently published allegation of extortion against some LASTMA officers has been concluded.
“Some revelations behind the nuances of the video footage were unearthed. Incidentally, during the preliminary investigation, the offender that made the post declined all entreaties for him to come forward to substantiate his claims and clarify some grey areas.
“However, the identified LASTMA officials will definitely face the Administrative Disciplinary Panel after it was resolved that the matter should be escalated to higher authority in the Public Service.
“Updates on the disciplinary process will be provided as it progresses.
“We continue to encourage anyone with any complaint or report to reach LASTMA via published contacts and various social media channels.”
From the tone of the announcement, the officers are more likely to be dismissed from service if eventually, found guilty as a deterrent to others. It will also serve as an encouragement to motorists who are being extorted to come forward with relevant information in order to weed out all corrupt officers in its rank and file of the agency.
Recall that the General Manager, LASTMA, Olajide Oduyoye had reiterated readiness of the agency to sanction erring officers following series of complaints from the motoring public.
Oduyoye, recently, said it arrested and reprimanded 25 of its officers for extorting motorists in the last three months
He said the agency was able to arrest erring officers because it had undercover agents who went about as motorists.
Also, Comptroller Isaac Adetimiro, the Deputy GM of LASTMA, said the management was intensifying efforts to ensure that officers portray the image of the authority well.
Adetimiro said that the management had intensified efforts in the monitoring and sanctioning erring officers due to the numerous complaints it was receiving from the public.
He recalled that earlier in the year, two LASTMA officers were summoned and disciplined because of misdemeanour of extorting a motorist who committed a traffic offence.
Adetimiro said that LASTMA had continued to receive complaints and some were redressed either administratively or through the traffic mobile courts in favour of genuine complainants who had evidence. “No culprit will escape the sanction..
“We will continue to look inward in eradicating these misdemeanours by increasing our monitoring and surveillance on officers at their duty posts.
“This is to ensure that they are civil to the populace as well as eschew corruption in the discharge of their duties,” Adetimiro added.
He, however, urged road users to obey traffic rules and regulations at all times to avoid incessant traffic gridlock on roads.
Adetimiro said that bad driving, street trading, pedestrians crossing in unauthorised places, illegal parking and waiting were factors that had compounded traffic situation in the state.
He said that the majority of LASTMA officers were still diligent and upright in the discharge of their duties.
Adetimiro advised road users to be law-abiding or be ready to face the full wrath of the law if caught flouting traffic regulations.