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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Okechukwu Ofili: The LASTMA Question [The Trent Voices]

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Around 2:00 pm today I had just finished eating lunch at Jevinik Restaurant. My plan was to get home and do some writing, watch some EPL, chill… it was that sort of nice day that just made you want to relax. All was good until I got to the Adeola Odeku and Akin Adesola junction.

For those of you not familiar that area, it is a T-junction, sometimes the traffic light works but most times traffic is controlled by LASTMA and Police Officers. Today there were about 5 officials controlling traffic … 2 LASTMA, 2 Yellow Fever and 1 police woman … not sure why so many are needed but that’s for another conversation.

I was behind two cars on Adeola Odeku and both had their trafficator light to the left on to get on Akin Adesola (towards Falomo Bridge)… soon we were beckoned to move by the LASTMA officer… one mid-size officer with Mike Tyson hair-cut. He beckoned for our row to start moving, so the first 2 cars moved and I followed. As I got towards the middle of the junction, he started waving for the traffic to the left to start moving. I was confused because a quarter of my car was already in the middle of the junction. So I stopped in confusion, I looked at the LASTMA guy with a what-the-heck-are-you-doing look… do you want me to move or stay?

So me I did not want any wahala, so I started moving back towards Adeola Odeku. The next thing I know… Mike Tyson teleported to the side of the car shouting “Oga what are you doing!” At this point I was pissed… I was like “What do you mean what am I doing you are the one that does not know how to control traffic.”

The next thing I hear is click… Mike Tyson is in my car (I forgot to lock the doors). Instinctively and I don’t know why… I move my cellphones and valuable items into my pocket… luckily all my cash was already in my pocket. But my laptop bag is on the passenger floor seat. I just have this weird feeling that he would try and steal it.  I don’t know why but that was how I was feeling. I also felt unusually angry. In the past three times I have encountered LASTMA it could be argued that we had violated rules even though they were inconspicuous signs or rules. But today I felt particularly annoyed because I was following his directive.

So the first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Oga what nonsense why are you entering my car! What rule did I violate abeg I no get money o!” Mike Tyson got pissed! So pissed I thought he was going to bite my right ear off!

“Oga, abeg I don’t need your money, because you see me so. You no know sey I get car at home! Abeg let me see your license.” Mike Tyson barked. Before I could even touch my wallet, the guy was like “You should be begging but you are making guy! I will show you, park to the side.”

At this point in my mind was like “f**k this shit!” I pulled out the phone and said I was going to call my people. Then Tyson was like “so you want to call your people.” He brought out his own phone and start dialing. I am not sure he had credit even because he was fake calling someone, he barely pressed any buttons and he was already talking to someone.

Let me remind you that a quarter of my car is already in the middle of the junction o! So at this time horns are blaring all around us, traffic is backing up on Adeola Odeku. Finally police woman comes to my side of the window and says I should park to the side. Me I tell her that I am not parking to any side because I did not do anything wrong. Mike Tyson is still yapping on my side that I should park…park! park!

That’s when I did it.

I moved the gear into drive and hit the accelerator and started driving home. In my mind I knew I had not done anything wrong, this was simply a case of LASTMA officials looking for quick money. I continued driving, the guy was just there confused.

“Where are you taking me to,” he started asking. I was like “I am taking you to my people.” lol… I don’t know where I even got that answer. Once I said “my people” the guys mood changed… maybe he thought my people where ritualists. He started saying Oga you should not do like this… this one that one.

I just kept driving. We had almost reached the bottom of Falomo bridge when the guy was like oya please drop me… lol. The dude was confused. But I was still so angr… anyway I stopped.

Then he started on one long lecture of how he does not like the way I am talking and that if not that he was in a good mood that he would have done something. Me I just replied and told him that what he did is wrong, that everyone of us Nigerians are fighting the same battle and we can’t keep picking on each other. He was just there, finally he opened the door to leave. But just as he was about to step out he stopped.

In my head I was like “OOooooo what’s is this rubbish joor, this guy should leave my car… let me go home.” Then he asked “What is your name?” I said “Okechukwu.” Then he got down and closed the door.

I don’t know how he got back to his station, maybe he walked all the way back or chattered on okada. Me I just continued my journey home. But my main lingering thought was this, “why do LASTMA officials feel they have the right to enter people’s cars uninvited?”

I mean it’s a violation of a person’s privacy. But yet it happens every single day in Lagos. Why has a rule not be written to make it a crime. I mean I could be a ritualist or kidnapper … but yet they enter. Not to mention that a person car is their private property. Maybe if we start driving them to Ibadan forest they would stop entering our cars uninvited.

To my lawyers out there, can you answer the question “Does LASTMA or Police have the right to enter a person’s car?”

Okechukwu Ofili is an author, speaker, and blogger and a The Trent Elite Voice. Follow him on twitterFacebook or subscribe to his blog for more honest talk and as @ofilispeaks on instagram for more sketches! To bring Ofili to your school or organization as a speaker simply go here. His third book How Intelligence Kills published in December 2013, order it at https://bit.ly/intelligencekills.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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