Lagos Oppposition party, the Democratic Peoples Party wants the Lagos State uniformed agencies restructured to enable themrespect the fundamental human rights of citizens.
Speaking against the backdrop of the recent jailing for four years of a state traffic officer over a N10,000 bribe he collected from a motorist and last week’s statement by the Commissioner of Information on the unacceptable state of the agencies, the party in a statement by its Director of Publicity Felix Oboagwina identified pervading rottenness in the whole system.
The party condemned uniformed state and local government operatives of corruption, impunity and civil violence, apart from indiscriminately attacking members of the public with cudgels, cutlasses, bottles, horsewhips and sticks.
The party particularly fingered as guilty of these violations men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Brigade, local government staff, the Environmental Task Force, motorcycle licence enforcers and Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO).
Atrocities that DPA accused the organisations of perpetrating include: Meting dehumanizing treatment to citizens, battering, molesting, jailing, locking up and transporting suspects in poorly-ventilated Black Maria and detaining victims for periods beyond the constitutionally-stipulated 48 hours.
“They appear to forget that they are civil agencies and not the Armed Forces. These men resort to self-help and attack citizens with harmful implements, most times without provocation,” DPA said. “They behave like an army of invasion and show no iota of the discipline, decorum and civility expected of personnel of an organisation established by a civilian regime.”
Reiterating its call last year for complete sanitation of the agencies that it accused of militancy, DPA said they represented a sore point in the administration of Governor Raji Fashola and urged him to personally call for the investigation of the agencies.
“Unfortunately, these people represent a significant interface between the government and the public and they have really dealt a serious dent on the credibility of the regime and its relationship with the public,” DPA said.
Although welcoming the recent jailing for four years of a LASTMA official over a N10,000 bribe he collected from a motorist, the party said his case was a tip of the pervading rottenness in whole system and more bad eggs ought to be discharged.
“These agencies are completely alienated and dislocated from citizens and need urgent overhauling and reorientation,” DPA said, adding, “They treat people indulging in minor indiscretions and misdemeanours like criminals; and the harsh treatments they mete out to their victims often result in loss of life, limb, liberty, property, man-hours and opportunities.”
DPA recalled television footage last year in which residents of a Lagos suburb narrated how KAI officers demolishing illegal structures attacked residents with bottles and harmful objects.
DPA said the agencies needed reorientation, urging the government to retrain them to emulate civil organisations like the Red Cross, National Youth Service Corps, Federal Fire Service and the Federal Road Safety Commission, whose conduct in public remained sterling, humane and sociable.