Lastma and criminal exploitation : why Lagos Govt must review laws – Olasumbo Faseesin Esq
Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Hon Speaker & Members
The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority otherwise LASTMA has penalties for Traffic Offences. These offences are inexhaustible and the fine attached although homonguous may not cure in it entirety the challenge of road users. It is even more draconian to have people pass through a more difficult process of arrest in Lagos. The manner of arrest could be likened to combatant attack with very untrained officers, some without Uniform, and others heavily drunk, all jumping against a purported offender who may suddenly become very apprehensive.
Please, do not remind me of Strict liability and why Laws regulating Traffic must be applied hook, line and sinker. It is unnecessary, wicked and vexatious to attach liabilities ranging from 20k upwards against minor offences including the non-use of Seatbelt. On my way to court along Anthony way, I encountered and had a first hand experience. How sad!
One would rather think that Lagos State in it exercise of legislative powers through enacted Laws is expected to draw examples from the Federal Road Safety Commission who ordinarily enjoys that authority to oversee the use of Federal road, secure and ensure optimum safety for road users. Unfortunately, it is not the case with Lagos State whose intention is to exploit the vulnerability of citizens and residents with uncontrollable fine against road users.
The essence of criminal liability cannot hitherto be for revenue mobilization. For Lagos State, this is exactly what the case is with LASTMA who might be on targets to return money into the coffer of Lagos State by all means. Not even the Mobile Court would act differently, it appears more like an arrangement to entirely exploit the people using the Law as an instrument of Fraud.
Finally, how could Lagos State fine a purported offender twenty thousand Naira for not strapping seatbelt while the Federal Road Safety Commission would only fine five thousand Naira ? To also think that Lagos State legislated and enacted Laws regulating FEDERAL ROADS? Perhaps the doctrine of Covering the field has become useless and inapplicable.
Assuming without conceding that all is well to have Lagos State superintend over Federal road, should Lagos State fine more than the Federal Government whose agency is FRSC and who by Law has jurisdiction & authority over the road? Is Lagos operating or, conflicting existing Laws and which should prevail among other things are issues for determination by a court of competent jurisdiction going forward.
The above legal issues are foreseeable conflict permissible and actionable in court. I repeat, don’t remind me Strict liability and the rule! Other variants, including statutory rape, selling alcohol to minor & animals dangerous or, supposedly dangerous are well noted and known to me. Don’t equally think there are no defences, they include preemptive risk, statute of limitation, statutory repose amongst others. Whether applicable in our jurisdiction may be another day’s topic. Or, whether contained in the Statute and to which people are governed.
My Admonition To Lagos State Government!
The Lagos State Government must understand that the essence of criminal liability or, liabilities is not to generate revenue and that’s why the option for fine is most ridiculous even in the Constitution or, relevant and extant Statute. Crime is for prosecution after arrest, arraignment, plea and if found guilty beyond reasonable doubt convicted & sentencing or, more in the option of fine. Otherwise, discharge or, acquittal where not found guilty. It is not primarily aimed @ exploiting the people, especially when no intention otherwise (mens rea) is established.
It is not an avenue to mobilize and criminally exploit citizens and residents, especially those who are pronounced guilty as charged by a Mobile Court answerable, dependent and funded directly by the state government with prosecution counsel prepared for similar purpose and all within 30minutes for obvious reason of summary jurisdiction.
The people are gradually waking up from slumber and consciously, demanding good leadership across all strata, sphere & ladder. It cannot be business as usual which is why Nigerian youth rose up against #SARS and stampeded it’s operation through #ENDSARS advocacy.
Our Laws must bear human face and reflect the current situation or, circumstance. The only way a society can truly evolve with humanity as epicentre is to end crime believing change is a constant phenomenon for criminals found guilty/ liable and convicted.
Olasumbo Faseesin Esq
Convener Conscience Conscious Youth Patriot