Operatives of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) at the weekend arrested a fake traffic officer at Ikoyi area of Lagos.
The General Manager of LASTMA, Bolaji Oreagba, in a statement by spokesperson for Agency, Adebayo Taofiq, yesterday, said the suspect was arrested at Olu Holloway Road by Alfred Rewane area of Ikoyi, by the Ashafa Moyosore-led monitoring and surveillance team.
Oreagba stressed that the agency carried out a special monitoring/surveillance operation on the suspect and got him arrested in response to complaints from motoring public via the agency’s hotlines/social media handles.
According to him, Investigation revealed that the suspect had been extorting huge sums of money from motorists for various traffic offences, ranging from seat-belt offences, obstructions, illegal over-taking and driving against traffic, at different locations around Lagos Island.
Oreagba urged the general public to be wary of fake traffic officers, stating that the Agency operates a cashless policy, as violators apprehended are charged to court with a ‘Referral Notice’ issued to them.
He said,“It is disheartening to get complaints from road users, particularly motorists, on activities of these unscrupulous elements impersonating and extorting money from them.
“Let me warn the motoring public to desists from inducing traffic officers in any form (money), as both the giver and taker are liable before the law.”
The General Manager also warned impersonators disguising as LASTMA personnel to immediately desist from such illegal acts, as more surveillance personnel have been deployed to hunt for them.
Meanwhile, the suspect, Mr. Omotutu Bamidele, 55, has confessed to have been impersonating with a reflective jacket as a LASTMA officer and extorting money from motorists, particularly private car owners/ drivers at highbrow areas across the state.
Bamidele, who hailed from ‘Atijere Town’ in Ondo State said he and his colleagues are making an average of N35,000 from extortions on a daily basis.
He also confessed to be living with his younger brother inside one of the Army Barracks in Lagos, as well as having operated around Ikoyi, Obalende, Apongbon Bridge, Iporin, Olowu areas, apprehending both commercial and private cars for various traffic infractions, including driving against traffic (one-way).
The suspect said: “Any motorists particularly private car owners caught dropping someone at any undesignated bus stop paid between N15,000 to N20,000, while those caught driving against traffic (One-way) paid a minimum of N35,000.”
One Mr. Adewusi Adebola (a complainant), confirmed that the suspect (Omotutu Bamidele) apprehended him for ‘obstruction’ on March 6, 2023, around Spac Bus Stop by Awolowo Road, Ikoyi and collected N20,000 from him for dropping his colleagues.
While another complaint, Obinna Kingsley, via one of LASTMA’s social media handles (Twitter), said he was forced to transfer N50,000 to the arrested suspect’s bank account for ‘obstruction’ on Awolowo Road by Obalende Bridge towards Tafawa Balewa Square (T.B.S).
Also, Director, Legal Department of LASTMA, Akerele Kehinde , has confirmed that the suspect would be charged to court today with all items recovered from him (fake identity card & a reflective jacket) in accordance with the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State.