A 55-year old man, Omotutu Bamidele, who recruited himself as a LASTMA official has confessed that he was making N35,000 on a daily basis from motorists by impersonating with a reflective jacket as a LASTMA official in Lagos State.
The suspect, Bamidele, made the confession after he was apprehended following reports from the victims from whom he had extorted huge sums of money for various traffic offences.
The suspect, Bamidele, stated that before his arrest it was a success story as a fake LASTMA official as he extorted money from motorists particularly private car owners and drivers at highbrow areas across the State.
He mentioned areas that he operated with his fake colleagues to include Ikoyi, Obalende, Apongbon Bridge, Iporin, Olowu areas, where they apprehended both commercial and private cars for various traffic infractions including driving against traffic (one-way).
The suspect, who lives with the younger brother inside an Army Barracks in Lagos and hails from ‘Atijere Town’ in Ondo State, revealed that he does not operate alone as he works with his other fake colleagues in the extortion business on a daily basis.
Operatives of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, had arrested the suspect, Bamidele, who is a serial fake traffic officer around the Ikoyi area of Lagos.
This was disclosed by the LASTMA Director, Public Affairs Department, Adebayo Taofiq, who stated that the suspect was nabbed at Olu Holloway Road by Alfred Rewane area of Ikoyi by its Monitoring/Surveillance team led by Ashafa Moyosore (Zonal Head).
According to the General Manager, Bolaji Oreagba, who confirmed that the Agency carried out special monitoring/surveillance operations about the suspect, they got him arrested in response to complaints from the motoring public (Obinna Kingsley & Adewusi Adebola) via LASTMA hotlines/social media handles.
“Investigation conducted revealed that the arrested suspect had been extorting huge sum of money from motorists for various traffic offences ranging from not using seat belt, obstructions, illegal over-taking and ‘One-way’ at different locations around the Lagos Island. It is disheartening getting complaints from road users particularly motorists on activities of these unscrupulous elements impersonating and extorting money from them.”
Oreagba urged the public to be wary of these fake traffic officers stating that the Agency operates a cashless policy as any violators apprehended are charged to Court with a ‘Referral Notice’ issued to them.
He warned the motoring public to desists from inducing traffic officers in any form (money) as both the giver and taker are liable before the law.
The General Manager however, warned other impersonators disguising as LASTMA personnel to immediately desist from such illegal acts as more surveillance personnel have been strategically deployed to hunt for them.
It does not appear that those operating as fake LASTMA officials will abide by the agency’s warning considering the huge sums of money they make on a daily basis following the confession of the suspect, Bamidele.
He stated, “Any motorists, particularly private car owners, who I caught dropping someone at any non-designated Bus Stop paid between N15,000 to N20,000 while those caught for driving against traffic (One-way) paid a minimum of N35,000”.
This was confirmed by one of the complainants, Adewusi Adebola, who revealed that the suspect (Omotutu Bamidele) apprehended him for ‘obstruction’ on the 6th of March, 2023, around Spac Bus Stop by Awolowo Road, Ikoyi and collected N20,000 from him for dropping his colleagues.
While Obinna Kingsley made complaint via one of the LASTMA social media handles (Twitter) that he was forced to transfer N50,000 to the arrested suspect (Omotutu Bamidele) for ‘Obstruction’ on Awolowo Road by Obalende Bridge towards Tafawa Balewa Square (T.B.S).
According to Adewusi Adebola, owner of a Toyota Corolla (LSR 299 AY), “Honestly speaking, I had written series of negative stories about activities of LASTMA on social media particularly on ‘Twitter’ since the ugly incidents happened until I was called by the LASTMA management that the man I reported who extorted money from me was a fake traffic officer and that he has been arrested”.
Meanwhile, the Director, Legal Department (LASTMA), Barr. Akerele Kehinde, disclosed that the arrested suspect would be charged to Court with all items recovered from him (fake identity card and a reflective jacket) on Monday, 27th March, 2023, in accordance with the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State.