From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
Gov Yahaya Bello of Kogi State
Motorists and commuters plying roads in Lokoja, would have sigh of relief as the dreaded officers of the Kogi state Roads Transport Management Authority ( KOTRAMA) may have been sacked from the roads as they were off their duty posts for past three days.
Their sack may not be unconnected with their alleged illegal activities on the roads against motorists’ and commuters.
The officers have been accused of flagrant display of unwholesome practices and high level compromise for extortion and bribery from unsuspecting motorists and Commutters.
Our Correspondent reliably gathered that the Kotrama Officers were sacked for their deviation from the law that established them and had became a law to themselves arresting motorists at will without contravening known traffic laws.
The source added that the officers who were carried away by their unchecked illegality , have in addition usurped on the roles of Vehicles Inspection officers (VIO) and Federal Roads Safety Corps.
According to the source who pleaded anonymity, said Kotrama was a creation of law of the state, but lamented that in the process of the enactment, some people under the guise of consultancy, surreptitiously smuggled some clauses into the bill that was finally passed by the Kogi state House of Assembly.
The source stated further ” The state Government in its attempt to bring sanity to road Management, initiated a bill , but the bill was allegedly doctored by some persons before its final passage .
” The initial concept is for them to control traffic at interjections and roundabouts. They were to help school children at Zebra crossings, and to help accidents victims and to clear off the road accident debris.
” But, the officers left their core mandates and began to unleash mayhem on motorists and commuters for flimsy violation of traffic rules. They extort money from motorists , collect bribes and in some cases beat up their prey for not meeting their demands.
” They were not better than thugs and agberos. They unleash terror on people. They often demand for Drivers licences, Fire extinguishers, seat belts, spare tyres, windscreen crack , head lights etc, which are all outside their duties.” The source lamented.
According to one of the victims, simply identified as Akwila, who was arrested for not being in possession of his car Jack at the time he was flagged down, said , all appeals fell on their deaf ears until they extorted five thousand naira from him.
” In fact, the most annoying thing is that I was going to the bank to pay my daughter’s school fees when I was arrested. It was a hell for me that day. I have to part with the money for me to be left of the hook even as I couldn’t pay the school fees again. In fact, they have their cell office at the Ganaja junction. Up till now the experience continue to linger in my memory.” Akwila lamented.
It was reported that there was a recent face off between the Kotrama officers and VIO over usurpation of duties which may have led to the alleged sacking of the Kotrama Officers.
When contacted the Commissioner for Transportation, Hon. Joseph Baron Okwoli said he was not aware of their sack , but promise to make enquiry and call back.