✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

Lagos: An emerging city of extortioners

Under normal circumstances, officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Vehicle Inspection…

Under normal circumstances, officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO), owe it a duty to safeguard the interest of the people and to ensure that road users obey traffic rules and regulations.

In place of this now in metropolitan Lagos, constant harassment by these law enforcement agencies including agents of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and council officials are all involved in constant harassment and extortion by those who are supposed to maintain order on the roads.

This illegal act by the law enforcement agents including the NURTW agents popularly called “Agbero,” stationed on the roads is carried on motorists mostly the commercial buses, okada riders, “Keke Marwa and Keke NAPEP operators.

Investigations revealed that extortion of people comes in different ways. The first that is common at major bus stops in Lagos are the “Agbero boys” who wear green and white uniforms, parading themselves as NURTW agents.

By the operation of these boys, they have grip a and direct dominion over commercial bus and cab drivers, okada riders and the tri-cycle operators. The commercial bus drivers are compelled to pay various amounts between N200 and N500 as registration or booking in the morning, depending on the size of the vehicle.

Apart from this, the commercial drivers who pick their passengers at designated motor-garages have to repeatedly pay the fare of two passengers to “national” as the Agbero boys are fondly called, anytime they pick passengers from the garage to another destination. For a commercial bus operator like the “molue” and the small bus popularly called “Varagon,” he has to pay a minimum of N20 at each bus stop he stops to pick passengers until he gets to his destination.

The Okada riders and Keke Marwa operators are mandated to pay between N200 and N300 every morning to the Agbero boys if they have to pick passengers at a designated park. Any Okada rider who refuses to pay this amount will not be allowed to pick a passenger at the park.

Findings revealed that the law enforcement agents on their own part, carry out cruel acts on motorists both commercial and private, not leaving out hawkers and pedestrians. Harassment by the law enforcement agents is a common phenomenon in Lagos. The Kick-Against-Indiscipline (KAI), Rapid Response Squad (RRS), LASTMA and the Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) are the worst offenders. They are fond of arresting motorists, particularly commercial bus operators on minor traffic offences that ordinarily require cautioning.

The KAI officials and the Task Force men working for Lagos State government most time make arrest of market women and men, traders and innocent people and at the end of it all, their victims are required to bail themselves or their seized property, of course with money; whereas the law forbids payment for bail.

It was revealed during investigations that frivolous traffic offences are fabricated in most cases by men of LASTMA, the VIO and the RRS, just to extort people. For instance, a team of RRS men last week Wednesday on Lagos-Abeokuta expressway, blocked a commercial bus at a bus stop while passengers were alighting from the bus. One of the policemen asked the commercial bus driver to produce the vehicle particulars and the driver obliged. Then the RRS officer demanded the driver’s licence which the driver produced.

Perhaps the policeman knew the driver had not committed any traffic offence but he just wanted to extort money from  him, he asked why the driver stopped the bus at that point, adding that the place was not a designated bus stop. Passengers in the bus became angry and shouted at the policeman, asking him where the designated bus stop was situated. In annoyance, the policeman left for their (police) vehicle that was parked about 10 metres away, holding the vehicle’s particulars and the original copy of the driver’s license. The driver, the vehicle and some of the passengers were delayed for about an hour. In the end, the driver parted with N2, 500.

LASTMA officials are the most dreaded by motorists in Lagos. Mr Dele Adamson is a commercial bus driver and speaking about his experience in the hands of LASTMA men, he said many traffic law enforcers on Lagos roads are greedy. He said he had been arrested either by the RRS or LASTMA men on several occasions without committing any serious traffic offence. However, he said he had to pay a certain amount ranging between N10,000 to N30,000 before his vehicle was released to him.

“There was a time I was arrested by a team of LASTMA officials because I waited along the highway to pick a passenger during rush hour in the morning. All of a sudden, I saw a LASTMA pick-up van appear from nowhere and blocked my bus. I tried to explain to them that I stopped because I pitied the passenger waiting for bus in the sun but they did not listen.

“One of them jumped into my bus and seized the steering wheel from my hands while the mobile policeman in the team asked the passengers to get down. Before I knew it, the one who took the wheel from me started the engine and headed towards their office. Now, while we were moving towards their office, I pleaded with the LASTMA men to have mercy on me. They demanded N10,000 which I didn’t have because I was on my second trip from Ikeja to Oshodi that morning. I pleaded to give them the N2,000 I  got from my first trip but they refused until we got to their office.

“When we got here, they parked my bus and did not release it to me until the fourth day when I begged them with N15, 000 because initially, I was told to go and bring N25,000 for contravening traffic laws of the state,” Adamson explained.

The narration above and many other similar ones being perpetrated by law enforcement agents in Lagos as witnessed by this writer, have heightened people’s curiosity as to ascertain whether the law enforcers are actually on the road to correct wrongs by motorists or make quick money.

Mr Babajide Alao’s encounter with LASTMA officials will leave readers to wonder if government’s fines and bills are actually negotiable. He is a private car owner whose car developed a fault on Lagos-Ikorodu road and he pushed the car to one side of the road.

According to, him, he had gone looking fora mechanic to check what could have been the fault. Surprisingly on his return to the spot, he met LASTMA men towing his car. He begged them and informed them he didn’t park the car but that the car developed a fault. However, all his pleas were not listened to.

Still recounting his ordeal with LASTMA, Alao said: “On getting to their office, I was fined N50,000 before the car could be released to me. I also observed that I was not alone in that situation because I saw others who were begging and negotiating for the release of their cars as if we were buying goods from them. I can tell you that my car was let off the hook four days after I  paid N30,000.”

Chidi John expressed how he was intimidated and harassed by V.I.O. men over hackney permit of his bus. He narrated to our reporter that the V.I.O. men claimed the hackney permit pasted on his vehicle’s windscreen was fake. “All the explanations I made that the document was obtained at the ‘Glass House’ (the authentic issuing house in Ikeja) did not convince them. I asked them to investigate my argument and that I could not fake the permit because the document cost just N2,500 for a year. They did not bother listening to me all. What they said was that I should get down from the vehicle.”

John explained further that his bus was seized by the V.I.O. for two weeks while his family suffered untold hardship, noting that the family depended wholly on what he got from the bus on a daily basis. “I finally paid N60,000 to the V.I.O. without having committed any traffic offence. The bus was not released to me directly; a section of the department within the agency assessed the condition of the bus and ensured it was in good condition. Thank God the bus was okay or else I would have been fined for that again.”

Further findings about extortions on Lagos roads revealed that KAI officials are the worst. On many occasions, teams of the agency have been seen raiding hawkers who exhibit wares along inner roads in the state. The traders who are mostly women and young men who are struggling to survive the harsh economic situation in the country, are hounded into a “Black Maria,” a kind of lorry that Prisons Authority used to transport prisoners to courts.

Monitoring of activities of KAI officials showed that any trader who is arrested would be taken to their headquarters at Alausa, Ikeja. On getting here, if it is in the day time, the arrested trader would be charged to court. Only few often get set free by the court while the unlucky ones are sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging between three to six months.

However, some traders buy their freedom at no fixed price before they could be taken to the headquarters. Payment for freedom depends on the KAI team that arrests the traders and the location. It was also gathered that not all the goods seized from the traders are taken to the headquarters.

VERIFIED: It is now possible to live in Nigeria and earn salary in US Dollars with premium domains, you can earn as much as $12,000 (₦18 Million).
Click here to start.