South-South stakeholders condemned the violent conduct of some police and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) personnel as well as Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) in enforcing the rules and regulations of the circulation.
Respondents who expressed their displeasure during an investigation by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the area, said that these bullies were extorting money from road users.
They said officials had deployed dubious means to exploit motorists in the area and called for these officers to be removed from the roads as well as a halt to the practice.
Respondents said the acts of violence had sometimes led to road accidents, some of which were fatal.
One of them, Emeka Obi, a businessman, told NAN in Calabar that some police, VIO and FRSC officials used to stop vehicles and perform unnecessary checks on them.
He lamented that while on duty, these officials stop some motorists to check their windshield wipers, traffickers, permits, seat belt use, for the sole purpose of exploiting them.
“Some of these checks are not intended as a warning to get you to fix faults in your car; they are meant to extort money from you.
“Last week, after a VIO had finished checking my car, he found that my details were complete and the next thing he asked for was that I provide my first aid kit.
“He ended up telling me that I was supposed to have a first aid kit and a bin in my car. It was all just to extort money from me and I ended up giving him 2,000 naira,” said he declared.
Another respondent, Esther Oti, said the police are now doing the FRSC’s job of checking the expiry date of driving licenses and car details.
Oti wondered why a policeman would ask him for a fire extinguisher and a spare tire.
“When you see them asking you all this, just know that they want to get money from you. It is sad that the Calabar Police have taken over the work of the FRSC and the VIOs.
“These people on our roads only use their information to take bribes for themselves and their superiors,” she said.
She called on the government to take a critical look at the illegal activities of the VIOs and others with a view to reducing them.
Oti further called on the FRSC authorities and the police to always train their staff to refrain from harassing motorists with the aim of extorting money from them.
A lorry driver in Eleme, Rivers, Emmanuel Mba, said FRSC officers operating on the East-West road went so far as to put barricades on the road to stop motorists.
Mba said the act led to many preventable road accidents involving trucks loaded with petroleum products trying to avoid such barricades and skidding off the road.
“Sometimes truckers are misunderstood for disobeying traffic rules.
“The truth is that the poor condition of the roads and the way some of these officials signal moving trucks leads to sometimes fatal accidents,” he said.
Additionally, another respondent, Sam Igonima, lamented the constant harassment of motorists in Rivers by some traffic enforcement officers on the road.
Igomina alleged that some of the officers demanded gratuities from traffic violators rather than punishing them, while subjecting other road users to unnecessary delays.
She also alleged verbal abuse by these officers when enforcing traffic rules and regulations.
Residents of Benin, the capital of Edo, have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the uncivilized way some road traffic officers are treating motorists in the state.
A civil servant, Henry Onovweghware, said the use of force by most police officers, FRSC officials, VIOs and Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSTMA) officials to make respecting traffic rules was wrong and had to be discontinued.
Onovweghware said: “In this day and age, FRSC, EDSTMA and VIO police traffic personnel should use technology to apprehend traffic violators.
“When I say technology, it doesn’t have to be as sophisticated as automatic traffic cameras mounted on traffic lights.
“A simple Android phone can be used to film a breach and the details broadcast to other checkpoints.
“These items will be presented as evidence in a mobile court for appropriate sanctions.
“Thus, the use of force should be halted to avoid injury to road users on the scene when such violent application is carried out,” he said.
Another resident of Benin, Dr Bright Oniovokukor, said the violent enforcement of traffic rules and regulations was a violation of human rights.
“It is rather unfortunate that these VIO, FRSC, Police and EDSTMA officers are not putting into practice the training they have received.
“The embarrassment of citizens is unjustified and the most annoying thing is that they want to extract money from the pockets of those they harass,” he said.
He called for the establishment of a functional oversight and reporting mechanism to enable victims to report offending officers.
Similarly, a journalist, Michael Egbejule, called for the removal of violently behaving officers from traffic enforcement duties.
Egbejule said traffic wardens should be civilized, especially since their duty was to protect motorists and ensure the safety of lives on the road.
“FRSC, VIO officials have become the terror on the road in a bid to enforce traffic rules and regulations.
“These men should be removed from the roads as they pose a serious threat to the safety of motorists,” he said.
Meanwhile, a commercial driver, Mathew Osagie, called for more training for road traffic enforcement officers to enable them to do their jobs in a more user-friendly manner.
“I have witnessed cases where some traffic officers behave inconsiderately to the point of even fighting road users,” he said.
In Asaba, Okechukwu Onumonu said some traffic enforcement officials should be more civil instead of intimidating motorists and extorting money from them.
He alleged that in some cases at the head of the Niger Bridge, law enforcement colluded with street urchins to collect money from motorists whose vehicles were overloaded.
Recounting his ordeal to NAN, he said that as he was driving his car with all documents intact and up to date, FRSC officials stopped him, searched his vehicle and told him his fire extinguisher was empty. .
“One of the officers noticed this and wanted to book me in, but I was later asked to give them some money, which I did and they let me go,” he said. -he declares.
A Yenagoa official, Samson Agu, said the way some traffic regulators were behaving in Bayelsa was most undesirable.
He said that most of the time they exploit motorists and tricycles, adding that in their wild behavior they cause traffic accidents.
Agu called on the government to clean up the system and punish these scrupulous officials.