David Oluchkwu has been sentenced to four months in prison by the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Mobile) Court, sitting in Bolade, Oshodi, Lagos, for impersonating an officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA and extorting money from unsuspecting motorists, particularly commercial bus drivers in the state.
On Wednesday, December 14, 2022, LASTMA agents arrested 27-year-old Oluchkwu in the Lekki neighborhood of Lagos as he was in the act.
Before the court where he was convicted, the defendant was subsequently charged by LASTMA on two counts of “Conduct likely to cause a breach of peace and Impersonation.”
According to Mr. Adebayo Taofiq, Director of LASTMA’s Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department, Magistrate Adesanya Ademola sentenced Oluchkwu to a four-month jail term without the option of a fee after he pled guilty to the two-count accusation against him.
Due to the nature of the offenses, Magistrate Adesanya emphasized that the convict must serve the four-month imprisonment term without the option of a fine.
The Prosecutor, Barrister Agbaje Oladotun, argued that both charges against the defendant (Breach of Peace and Impersonation) were in violation of Section 168 (D) and Section 78 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State (2015), respectively.
The General Manager of LASTMA, Bolaji Oreagba, viewed the verdict as a positive step, stating that it would serve as a deterrence to those who continue to extort money from unsuspecting members of the public under false pretenses.
According to Oreagba, “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.”
To prevent arrest and eventual prosecution, he encouraged motorists, particularly commercial bus operators, to rigorously conform to the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018 in order to avoid arrest.
Remember that Oreagba revealed that the suspect was apprehended by a Lastma patrol unit while they were on duty monitoring and directing traffic in the Lekki axis.
The Agency’s preliminary investigations revealed that the arrested suspect was a member of a criminal gang that has been extorting large sums of money from innocent motorists apprehended for various traffic violations, including seat-belt, obstructions, illegal overtaking, and one-way violations, at various locations throughout the state.
According to Mr. Oreagba, “the suspect was apprehended after our patrol team sighted him fully kitted with a Lastma uniform on a black jean collecting money from different commercial bus drivers who were illegally dropping and picking passengers under the Lekki bridge”
According to Mr. Oreagba, “the suspect was apprehended after our patrol team sighted him fully kitted with a Lastma uniform on a black jean collecting money from different commercial bus drivers who were illegally dropping and picking passengers under the Lekki bridge” “It is disheartening for some unscrupulous elements impersonating as LASTMA officials and extorting money from innocent motorists thereby denting the good image of the Agency before the public.”
Oreagba cautioned motorists to be aware of phony police demanding money from them, as the agency follows a cashless policy and any offenders detected are punished with a ‘Referral Notice’
However, he cautioned the impersonators to cease their criminal activities, as additional monitoring workers had been dispatched to strategic places to seek for individuals extorting innocent motorists under the agency’s name.
Oluchkwu, a native of ‘Ukpu’ in the state of Anambra, admitted to earning an average of N40,000 a day from illegal trafficking.
“Any motorists I caught driving against traffic (One-way) paid a minimum of N50,000 while other traffic violators were charged with different fines,” he stated.
However, the criminal with no fixed address pleaded with the government to temper justice with mercy.