The menace of so-called Lagos State council officials extorting members of the public seems to be getting to the climax, given an ongoing development reported at Coker/Aguda local council development area (LCDA).
Mid 2017, the state government, under the immediate past governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, had banned local councils and their officials from controlling or engaging in traffic duties, which obviously was an illegality that provided steady income for them.
Having been officially disabled, the council workers reportedly shifted their focus within the council’s radius allegedly squeezing Nigerians who have legitimate transactions to do in the local governments of their lawful earning.
There have been hundreds of complaints about the role and conduct of these councils’ officials afterwards.
There was a recent case involving a Lagos based couple, Mr and Mrs Nze (not real names), who claimed they were forced to have a taste of the impunity by the Coker/Aguda council workers, in particular. Their black Toyota Highlander was almost damaged while being mobbed by the council workers who demanded an outrageous fee before they would be allowed to park the car within the Council premises.
The couple corroborated the finding by Global Excellence of a clique within the council led by one Hafiz who habitually forces vehicle owners to part with money allegedly beyond the regulated fee irrespective of the visitors’ mission in the council.
According to the couple, it is even a worse case if the visitor decides to skip the undue charges and move his/her car out of the council’s premises, as the council officials would, without any form of identification, either puncture the car tires or yank the vehicles’ number plates.
“In spite of coming to transact business in the council, we were refused parking without paying N500. And when we decided to park outside the secretariat, the officials without ID cards or official tags rushed at us, deflated our car’s tires and even had the effrontery to remove the car’s number plates,” stressed Mrs. Nze, who alleged that she witnessed other victims being brazenly demanded to pay between N1000 and N5000 to retrieve their cars’ number plates by the Hafiz-led gang.
Investigations done by Global Excellence revealed that this type of operation is carried out daily in few other Councils in Lagos State. When this magazine made a covert visit to Coker/Aguda council to seek audience with the said Hafiz, some tough looking chaps suspected to be members of the gang, claimed there was nobody bearing that name there.
A recognized official in the Council who didn’t want his name mentioned, told Global Excellence that “this is a new development and we shall carry out a thorough investigation to get to the root of the matter because we are unaware that such thing is happening here.”
The rebuttal by the council official nonetheless, Lagosians are of the hope that the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation and that of Trade and Industry urgently render to the public their recognized list of unions authorized to collect funds from members of the public.