- A parent has petitioned the Lagos state Ministry of Transport over the alleged 'detention' of his kids by officials of the the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority
- The officials reportedly 'detained' the kids when their school bus was impounded over alleged traffic offence by the driver
- The parent has demanded N5 million for damages, an apology and also wants the officers to be disciplined
Lagos State Traffic Management Authority officials on Wednesday, June 13, reportedly 'detained' some pupils of Eucharistic Heart of Jesus School, Isolo after their school bus driver allegedly violated the state traffic law.
Punch reports that the driver picked up two pupils in the neighbourhood when he was stopped and accused by two LASTMA officials of not using a seat belt.
NAIJ.com gathers that one of the officials drove the bus to the agency's yard at Isolo and reportedly held the pupils for over three hours. The pupils were said to have been released when their parents went for them. The proprietor of the school reportedly signed an undertaken before the vehicle was released to him.
A parent, whose kids were in the school bus, has filed a petition to the Lagos state Ministry of Transport. According to the parent, Ikem Okuhu, the encounter traumatised his children.
The petition was written by Okuhu's lawyer, Nnamdi Nwonyishi, and was copied to the general manager of LASTMA and the officer-in-charge of LASTMA, Isolo. N5 million was demanded for damages. The lawyer also demanded that the officials be disciplined, in addition to an apology.
The petition read in part: “On Wednesday, June 6, 2018, our client narrated how a vehicle was impounded by two officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, somewhere around Isolo, Lagos, while conveying his children and others to their school, the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus School, Isolo.
“The said LASTMA officials had accosted the vehicle, a Toyota Sienna, and accused the driver of not using his seat belt, shortly after he picked up two pupils in one of the streets in Isolo. The driver, according to our client, informed the officials that he was in a neighbourhood street with little or no traffic and only just picked up those pupils, but the officials jumped into the vehicle, wrest the keys from the driver and drove the vehicle with the children to their office at Isolo. It did not occur to the officials that the children were on their way to school.
“Those officials drove the children to their office and detained them there for more than three hours. They refused to release them or make any effort for them to get to their school until the wife of our client arrived around 10.30am and had to take the children to school herself.
“That the children missed their classes for the day is just a small portion of the issue. These children have been heavily traumatised having watched the struggle between the LASTMA officials and the driver on the way and while at their office. These officials detained these children along with the vehicle because the driver did not have the sum of money demanded by these officials.
“Our client informed us that when his wife arrived at LASTMA office and demanded to know why her children were prevented from going to school by the officials, she was rudely asked to go to court if she so pleased.
“Our client also informed us that he had to leave his office to effect the release of his children and upon his arrival at the LASTMA office, he was also asked to go to court if he so pleased. Our client and his wife are worried about the trauma their children had been subjected to by the illegal detention by these officials of LASTMA. They are also worried about the man hours they have lost trying to effect the release of their children, aged between six and eight, from LASTMA detention.”
Nwonyishi threatened to take the case to court if the agency fails to pay the N5 million damages, tender an apology and sanction the officers.
Reacting to the incident, public affairs officer of LASTMA, Mahmud Hassan, said: “We have a practice that when we encounter the vulnerable and the weak on a bus, most especially school buses, if the driver run afoul of the law, we allow him to proceed to wherever he is going and we send the ticket to the owner of the bus or location of the school. We don’t impound a school bus with children in it. When we encounter them like that, it is at the discretion of the officer to allow them to go.
“However, in this particular instance, I have a serious doubt that a school bus was involved. But we will do our own investigation. We have inculcated it in our officers that when they see school buses, even if the driver committed an offence, they should allow him to go. We treat the weak and vulnerable with respect; we don’t allow the action of a driver to affect them negatively.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that the LASTMA on Sunday, December 17, 2018 said it arrested five of its officials for extorting motorists in various parts of the state.
The officials - Bamidele Sheu, a level seven traffic officer aged 48 and resident of 68 Oke Popo street, Lagos Island; Ope Adisa, aged 32 and level 5 traffic officer of 8, Freeman street, Lagos Island and Babatunde Aluko 37 years old traffic officer level 4 of 15, Oriwu street, Ikorodu were dismissed by LASTMA.
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