By Ajibola Abayomi,
January 14, 2018.
In a rare show of patriotism and exemplary behaviour, the General Manager of King Solomon Chariots Transportation, Johnson Ogbonnaya has voluntarily handed over a driver of the company, Abuchi Okpara who absconded to Ghana after knocking down an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Ogunmeru Obafemi in Igando area of the State, to law enforcement officers.
Okpara had knocked down Obafemi on August 7, 2018 in Igando area of Alimosho while attempting to evade arrest after violating the State Traffic Law.
The offender was driving a Ghana-bound Nigeria commercial vehicle with registration number KJA 633 XT where he dropped passengers at undesignated spot at Igando. The unwholesome action of drivers around the axis, according to traffic officials, usually results in traffic obstruction and gridlock on the ever busy Igando-Ikotun road, a development which made LASTMA officials to step up enforcement to ensure free flow of traffic in the area.
Okpara’s action was said to be in gross violation of the relevant sections of the Lagos State Traffic Laws, and effort of the traffic official to make him move the vehicle to the nearest lay-bye proved abortive.
The driver’s failure to obey Ogunmeru’s directive and desperate maneuvering to evade apprehension led to Okpara running his Toyota Sienna vehicle over the traffic official.
Not even the quick intervention of nearby policemen could prevent the culprit from driving ferociously in a bid to escape from the scene of the incident after which he fled to Ghana.
The victim was rushed to lgando General Hospital for initial treatment, before being transferred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) for comprehensive medical care.
However, the commitment of police officers of the Igando Police Station and subsequent support of Ogbonnaya eventually led to the driver’s arrest.
Ogbonnaya personally travelled to Ghana to apprehend the suspect, brought him to Nigeria and handed him over to LASTMA and police to face the full wrath of the law.
Meanwhile, the driver was on Monday, August 13, charged before an Igando Magistrate Court where he was ordered to be remanded in Kirikiri Prison.
Speaking on the development, LASTMA’s General Manager, Mr Olawale Musa condemned the unwarranted attack on Ogunmeru in strong terms, saying the trend of vicious attacks on the State traffic officials by unscrupulous people was of great concern to government, and warned any aggrieved individual to take advantage of the various complaint channels set up by the Agency to channel their grievances for immediate action instead of taking laws into their hands.
He said LASTMA officials remained committed to discharging their duty and responsibility to the good people of the State, just as he urged vehicle owners to take a cue from the action of Ogbonnaya by cooperating with the Agency and ensuring that violators of laws on their pay roll were not allowed to go scot free.
“We like to commend Mr Ogbonnaya for this rare display of patriotism and exemplary behaviour and urge others to take a cue from him because this can only encourage traffic officials to continue discharging their duty effectively.
“We also like to commend the Igando Station Police Officers. What we have noticed is that LASTMA officials are increasingly becoming hesitant in responding to accident victims due to the fear of being attacked and our message to the public is that attack on our personnel can be counterproductive to the victims of such accidents since they usually serve as first responders at most scenes of accidents.
“So, it is in our collective interest to stop the menace of offenders attacking traffic officials, while government will also not relent in intensifying efforts to continually address same,” the LASTMA boss said.
Besides, Musa cautioned traders against displaying their wares on the road especially as the festive period approaches to prevent traffic gridlock, while also assuring motorists that the Agency would continue to work with relevant government agencies to ensure that roads are protected and free of traffic during and after the Muslims festival.