Court jails fake LASTMA personnel

One David Oluchkwu has been found guilty of impersonating an officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, and extorting money from unsuspecting motorists and commercial bus drivers in the state of Lagos by the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Mobile) Court, which was sitting in Bolade, Oshodi, Lagos. Oluchkwu was sentenced to a four-month jail term for his crimes.

Oluchkwu, a 27-year-old man, was apprehended by agents of LASTMA on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, in the Lekki neighbourhood of Lagos while committing a crime.

The defendant was then arraigned before the court by LASTMA on two counts of “Conduct likely to cause a breach of peace and Impersonation,” both of which he was found guilty of.

Magistrate Adesanya Ademola imposed the four-month jail term without the option of fine after Oluchkwu pled “Guilty” to the two-count charge, as reported by the Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, Mr Adebayo Taofiq.

Magistrate Adesanya stated that the conviction warranted a mandatory four-month prison sentence without the possibility of a fine.

The prosecutor, Barrister Agbaje Oladotun, argued that the infractions for which the defendant was found guilty (Breach of Peace and Impersonation) violated Section 168 (D) and Section 78 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State (2015).

Bolaji Oreagba, General Manager of LASTMA, praised the verdict, saying it will serve as a deterrence to others who continue to extort money from the people under false pretences.

Oreagba says, “Our surveillance and intelligence unit, which has now been fully restructured, would continue to hunt for other bad elements disturbing the peace of the society on the roads.”

Drivers, especially those who operate commercial buses, were encouraged to rigorously comply with the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018 by the state’s attorney general.

In case you forgot, Oreagba confirmed that a LASTMA patrol team arrested the suspect while monitoring and controlling traffic in the Lekki axis.

The agency’s preliminary investigation shows that the detained individual is a member of a criminal gang that has been extorting large sums of money from innocent drivers who have been pulled over for minor traffic violations such as not wearing a seatbelt, blocking traffic, illegally passing another vehicle, and going the wrong way on a one-way street across the state.

Mr Oreagba stated, “the suspect was apprehended after our patrol team spotted him fully kitted with a Lastma uniform on black jeans collecting money from different commercial bus drivers who were illegally dropping and picking up passengers under the Lekki bridge.”

It is disappointing that “some unscrupulous elements” have been posing as LASTMA personnel to extort money from unsuspecting drivers.

Oreagba warned drivers to be aware of phoney police officers who demand a monetary fine, saying that the agency does not accept cash payments and instead sends violators to court with a “Referral Notice.”

He cautioned the impersonators that more surveillance officers had been sent to key places to seek individuals extorting innocent motorists under the pretence of the agency.

Oluchkwu, originally from ‘Ukpu’ in Anambra State, admitted that he made about N40,000 per day operating as an illegal traffic official.

He said, “Any motorists I caught driving against traffic (One-way) paid a minimum of N50,000 while other traffic violators were charged with different fines.”

However, the convicted felon, who had no known whereabouts, pleaded with the government for leniency.

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