It was exactly 6:45 am on Thursday, December 9, 2022, and the shocking event we are about to describe took place around the Adeniji Adele bus stand in Lagos.
All Femi Olaoluwa wanted to do was drop his brother off at the bus stop, where officials from the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency allow motorists to drop off their passengers. But providence had another plan for the man who turns out to be the General Manager of an oil company in the city.
As soon as the passenger got out of Olaoluwa’s 2016 Toyota Highlander, some 21 officials from the Lagos State Task Force and Central Business District unit (popularly known as the CBD Boys) crossed his vehicle.
A shocking encounter: As three of the officers stood in front of his car with guns cocked, two of the CBD guys forced their way into his car. Olaoluwa recalled the incident, telling Nairametrics:
- “Everything happened in 3 minutes like a movie. One of the officers with a gun was already drunk, staggering and ready to shoot me. One of the CBD guys told me to get out of the vehicle and talk to his team leader, who was in a small bus parked behind my car.
- “As soon as I got out of the car, another officer got in and drove away while I just watched them because I couldn’t believe that a law enforcement officer could take me out of the car and then take it away without giving me permission. a fine or even inform me where he was going to take my car. Meanwhile, before he could get to the bus where the team leader was, the bus driver also left.
- “It took me around 10 minutes to understand what was happening, as I couldn’t tell where they were taking my car. I didn’t find out until around 1:30 pm when I arrived at Alausa (his station) after having made unsuccessful efforts to check in Sura (Lagos Island) and Oshodi.
- I was able to get my car out around 2:30 pm with the help of a friend after parting with the sum of N20,000. While I was waiting outside his office, the officers brought in three other vehicles and the owners parted with N40,000 each.”
More shocking encounters: Olugbenga George, a public relations consultant, was another victim of the CBD Boys. A few weeks ago, he was returning from Acme Road when he was stopped by the traffic light at the Shrine of Femi. Suddenly, one of the CBD Boys dropped a studded piece of metal in front of his front tire while another officer opened the front door, sat down, and directed him to drive to his office inside Alausa without issuing a ticket. George said:
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- “They claimed that I was not supposed to stop in said lane as my vehicle was blocking traffic. However, I knew that it was all a means to extort money from me. The officers insisted that I bribed them with N40,000, but I negotiated with N15,000, which they agreed to.
- “I thought it was organized crime when I was asked to turn right at Ivory Music House and taken to a POS agent around the Femi African Shrine. As soon as I got to the POS agent, they exchanged pleasantries like they were friends. I used my ATM card at the guy’s machine, made the withdrawal, and the agent handed the cash over to the officers.
- “After I left them at the point where they arrested me, I went back to the POS agent, who revealed that I was the sixth person they had accosted and forced to use their POS machine. According to him, others were forced to pay 20,000 naira or more after they threatened that the Lagos state government would auction off their vehicles.”
Meanwhile, Olaoluwa and George are just two of the victims of the Lagos Task Force and CBD Boys. More reports and testimonies have revealed that dozens of motorists have also fallen for their traps.
No right to arrest: A source from the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) who spoke to Nairametrics anonymously, said that the CBD Boys are not empowered by law to arrest traffic offenders as that is the exclusive right of LASTMA officials. He explained:
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- “Most of their victims are ignorant of the law. They were all working with Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) and were only asked to join the task force to keep them busy.
- “Motorists have the right to question them and insist that they were taken to their office on the Island or in Alausa. It is illegal for them to forcefully drive another person’s vehicle or arrest traffic violators. The unfortunate thing is that the top government officials who are supposed to warn them also share in the bribery.”
The government is silent: Efforts to get Lagos Task Force Chairman Shola Jejeloye to respond to these allegations proved unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls and text messages made and sent by our analyst.
However, the Governor’s Special Adviser on Transportation, Sola Giwa, had earlier condemned the acts during an interview, vowing to bring out the suspects and prosecute them. He said:
- “I can assure you that we will get to the root of this shameful act of indiscipline.
- “Our monitoring team will be deployed to investigate the alleged extortion of some yet to be identified council officials for prosecution. Enforcement of traffic management by council officials is illegal and remains so in the state.”