By Joshua Olalekan, Abuja
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has ordered the cancellation of all official number plates currently in use as a result of gross abuse and directed re-issuance of new official number plates to all government owned vehicles, while retired staff are to forfeit same henceforth.
The governor has also ordered the ban of all Local Government officials in the state from controlling or engaging in traffic duties.
Addressing journalists at a press conference on Tuesday in Alausa, Ikeja, Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, said in recent times, there had been complaints about the role of Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs in traffic enforcement.
“Indeed, there are traffic units in all the 57 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas. However, this is not a responsibility for the third tier of government. We have reported instances of illegal arrest, extortion and general impunity on the part of the Local Government operatives.
“It is then appropriate to disband all the units and outfits parading as Local Government Traffic Units. This has been communicated to all these Agencies. For the avoidance of doubt, officials of the Ministry will start monitoring and any infraction will be dealt with in full compliance with the Law.
“Let me also reiterate that only the Nigerian Police, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), the Taskforce on Special Offences and the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) can perform traffic duties,” he said.
Elegushi urged Lagosians to report any such illegal activities to the Ministry of Transportation charged with the responsibility to ensure zero tolerance for illegal traffic duties, adding that there had never been a time government considered ceding its responsibilities to any other tier of government.
On number plates, Elegushi said government had now deemed it necessary to carry out a review so as to ensure better identification of government vehicles and end the era of abuse of the official number plates and its negative consequences on security.
He said government had realized that some of the current official number plates in circulation, were issued to vehicles different from the one which they were now found, decrying that even persons who were not in government now had vehicles bearing official number plates.
“This is neither tenable nor acceptable. As such, the Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has approved the cancellation and retrieval of all such official number plates and the re-registration of all government owned vehicles.
“For a while now, government has become aware of the challenges of such official number plate being randomly available to persons who should not ordinarily have access to them. We are aware that some retired public servants (political office holders and civil servants) did not return official number plate attached to vehicles they were using while in office.
“However, the number plates remain government property. Some others have brazenly removed them from vehicles kept with mechanics. All of these constitute a security challenge that must be addressed. In consideration of this, a new regime of official number plates will come on stream and by the end of the first quarter enforcement will commence,” he said.
Elegushi explained that under the new arrangement, official number plate would no longer be transferable as it would be specific to vehicles, adding that both security numbers and the official numbers would now be paired and reflected in the vehicle particulars/licenses.
The acting commissioner said henceforth, all retiring public servants and those leaving office must return and handover the official number plate of vehicles attached to them and that it must be stated that “when any public servant leaves office, they are no longer entitled to using official number plate.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, any private vehicle(s) which carry official number plate(s) will be forfeited to government irrespective of who owns such vehicle(s) and such person(s) will be prosecuted, accordingly.
“To give vent to this new arrangement, law enforcement agencies have been authorized effective from March 31, 2017 to commence a clamp down on vehicles that bears the old official number plates,” he stated.