story by crossriverwatch admin
Residents of Calabar the Cross River State Capital have accused traffic enforcers from the Department of Public Transportation DOPT, of arbitrary extortion and harassment. They also complained that even the levy imposed as parking fee on some designated parking lanes in town are too high.
Some of the residents who spoke to crossriverwatch told us that the traffic enforcers who just passed out from their training are behaving as though they are above the law. They accused them of undue harassment and victimization with intention to extort money.
Crossriverwatch investigation revealed that when motorists are arrested by the traffic enforcers and taken to their office, they are made to pay between five to ten thousand Naira. But because of the formalities of filling forms and going to pay in banks,motorists prefer to negotiate their way out of trouble with the enforcers on the scene and pay less for their freedom.
According to one respondent Mrs. Ididiong Ikwo a Calabar resident “the DOPT people are a torn on our flesh. Come to think of it, there is no legislative backing for DOPT yet they go about terrorizingpeople and government is praising them. I think one of these days we will go to court and sue the department; after all, someone sued LASTMA in a Lagos High Court and the court ruled that the levies imposed by LASTMA that was even created by an Act are illegal, talk-less of an illegal body like DOPT.Don’t worry; we will soon go to court”.
Mr. Declan Ogar told crossriverwatch that “extortion and harassment are common phenomena with the DOPT people over here in Calabar. Three days ago, I noticed them having a clash with some policemen along the IBB way near stadium over extortion of money from a motorist. They are just molesting intimidating people all over the place and behaving as if there are lords. N100 is charged for parking per hour on some designated streets and we feel that is outrageous. But it is a government policy that has come to stay and there is little the people can do to resist it”.
In his own view, Mr. Peter Ikibunim another resident in Calabar said “the DOPT is a sort of avenue to reduce unemployment and to make good of the area boys that were becoming amenace especially in Calabar. Common sense shows that it was meant for reforming those that were extorting money from people in Calabar. This is perhaps responsible for the bad reports coming from their activities regarding extortion of money from drivers, unwarranted seizure of their keys and physical abuses in some cases. Be that as it may, they have been deliberate efforts as I understand, from the government to make sure that they operate within specification”.
A member of the State House of Assembly who wanted to remain anonymous sai “I have been urging our colleagues in the House to see how we can do something about the incessant complaints from the public about the DOPT traffic people. The complaints are too much. Besides the kind of power there are beginning to wield needs moderation through legislation. I have been saying that to my colleagues. The department needs legislative oversight and that is why the Governor needs to send us a bill to create an agency in charge of traffic control. We cannot sit and watch a department of government wield so much power without legislative inputs. It is dangerous”.
The DOPT traffic enforcers where on July 7, 2012 accused of clubbing an unnamed army officer to death. Residents of Bedwell Street, Watt market and its environ in Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River State fled the area following sporadic shooting by men of the Nigerian Army over the death of the army officer in the hands of suspected officials of the Cross River State Department of Public Transportation.
The military officer was said to have met his untimely death as he was driving along the popular Bedwell Street also known as mechanic village to effect repairs of one of his tires. Unknown to him, he took the route which was a one-way drive. The men of the Cross River State Department of Public Transportation (DOPT) immediately trailed him.The DOPT men soon caught up with him and quickly impounded his car after forcibly seizing his car key.
An eyewitness of that event told crossriverwatch that at that point, the officer now removed his belt and beat up the DOPT members, who in turn used the clubs they were wielding to beat the man to death before discovering that he was a military officer.
When contacted on phone, the Special Adviser to Governor Liyel Imoke on Public Transportation, Mr. Edem Ekong, could not pick his phone which rang several times. Text messages to his phone where also not replied. It will be recalled also that when the DOPT traffic enforcers allegedly killed the army officer in July, several calls to Mr. Ekong’s phone number by journalists where not picked and text messages where also not answered.
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.