There is no job without its inherent risks and potential hazards. However, some jobs, particularly those that involve enforcements, come with higher degrees of exposure to risks. If everyone, on grounds of fear of risks, avoid taking up such jobs, no one will be available to maintain law and order.
The society is likely to become lawless if there are no law enforcers to generally caution citizens with tendencies to break the law. It is not new to hear that law enforcers are usually greeted with resistance from law breakers when carrying out their statutory duties as recommended by law. These law breakers, sometimes, in an attempt to escape punishment, resort to physical attacks and assaults on the law enforcers. It then may become more dangerous with a higher vulnerability level of exposure, if the law enforcers do not bear arms with which they can defend themselves.
The General Manager of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr Bolaji Oreagba recently declared that State Government would no longer tolerate any act of assault, physical attack or attempted murder on any official working for government, especially LASTMA personnel. Mr. Oreagba stated that the perpetrators of such misdemeanors would be made to face the full wrath of the law. Assaulting uniformed personnel recently appears to be a rising trend in Lagos as this tide must be stemmed to avoid a state of lawlessness.
In a recent press release signed by the Spokesman of LASTMA, Mr. Olumide Filade, Mr. Oreagba reacted to a murder attempt on a LASTMA officer around Ojodu-Berger-Ogba axis of Lagos by a mini bus driver who was to be apprehended for causing obstruction along that route. The LASTMA boss said assault on government officials while carrying out their lawful duties is becoming too rampant and the government is ready to put a stop to this through diligent prosecution of such person(s) no matter whose ox is gored.
According to the Filade-signed Press Release and based on the reports received on the incident, a mini bus driver was seen to be causing wilful traffic obstruction at River Valley Estate and after refusing all entreaties to move away from the place, the vehicle was to be apprehended by a LASTMA official. At this juncture, the driver disappeared only to reappear unexpectedly with a big knife with which he stabbed the head and neck of the officer who attempted arresting him. The driver, after cutting the head and neck of the personnel, escaped with the help of street miscreants in the area but the vehicle was apprehended and taken to LASTMA yard.
The attempted murderer was later produced by one of the chairmen of the mini bus association/union at the Ojodu police station where is presently in detention awaiting charge to court and prosecution.
There had been cases of violent attacks on LASTMA personnel where motorists used dangerous weapons or even knocked them down with their vehicles. Some of these traffic managers, while on their lawful duties, have been maimed, paralyzed or rendered half-bodied. Others never survived to tell their stories as they were killed while in the line of duty. These officers and men of LASTMA are human beings just like every other Lagosian. They have husbands, wives, children, other family members and dependants who look up to them.
It is unfortunate that traffic controllers and managers stationed at strategic positions on Lagos roads have become elements or targets of attacks by the same people they are working for. One can easily infer that it is only traffic law offenders and violators who are usuallyopposed to orderliness and sanity on the roads. They have total disregard for traffic laws. One thing these unruly motorists fail to understand is that, road sanity cannot be maintained if traffic law offenders are not fined and punished for their offences. When laws are violated and the offender isn’t punished, there is likely tendency of repeating such with the mind of getting away with it. So the whole essence of imposing fine on a traffic law violator or confiscating their vehicle in accordance with the provisions of the law is to prevent others from doing same and a repeat from the offender. It is also to ultimately maintain law and order in the society.
Of high importance that emphasis must be laid on is the need for LASTMA personnel to relate in a civil manner with members of the motoring public who commit traffic infraction. Officials of LASTMA must always ensure that all the due protocols for effecting an arrest of a traffic violator are always followed with all sense of civility. Manner of approach matters in every human dealings and it speaks volumes of how an interaction would ensue between two parties. If an offender is approached in a polite and civil manner, it may appeal to the emotion of that offender making him cooperate without any recalcitrance. So the role of civility in apprehending a motorist cannot be overemphasised.
One of the ways to prevent attacks on LASTMA personnel is to beef up security around these officials when they are on duty, especially when on enforcement operations. Security officers attached to LASTMA personnel must always be on standby to protect these traffic managers from attacks by disgruntled elements among lawless motoring members of the public. Another way of nipping incessant physical assaults on LASTMA officers in the bud is to prosecute and punish the attackers according to the provision of the law. This will serve as deterrent to any lawless member of the motoring public with such intention.
Ojewale, of the Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, writes via [email protected]