Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole has debanded the state traffic management agency (EDSTMA), whose officials he accused of harassing and extorting money from members of the public in Benin, the state capital.
Oshiomhole announced his decision when he paid an unscheduled visit to the State Ministry of Transport. He said he took the action in a bid to sanitize and rid the roads of the unwholesome activities of some officials of the Agency.
He also ordered the immediate release of over sixty vehicles illegally impounded from motorists for allegedly contravening traffic offences in the state capital.
“I have received a lot of complaints from members of the public. Even some of our Commissioners have observed a lot of extortion going on. All of these young men and women just go and put on T-shirts, unauthorized, unemployed. They just take over some strategic streets and extort money from members of the public. Whether you are guilty or not guilty, they take you to this place, issue fake receipts, and we have seen a number of the fake receipts. One was shown to us this morning, and we find a similar example here now.
“So, I want to once again publicly announce that these men called EDSTMA, have since been disbanded. They have no business on the roads. Henceforth, anybody they harass, the person should report them to the nearest police station. We are going to set up a monitoring squad, made up of policemen, both plain clothes and uniformed policemen to arrest anyone that decides to turn our high way to extortion point. Anyone that harasses motorists in the state will be sent to prison,” Oshiomhole said.
He appealed to members of the public not to give money to anybody, emphasizing that nobody was authorized to collect one naira from anybody.
“If taxes are to be paid, taxes are to be paid to the banks, not cash to anybody. All those cash they have been collecting are illegal, and they are going into individual pockets. We want to manage Edo traffic, but not to subject people to untold hardship and dehumanizing tactics. Government cannot use thugs to enforce laws. Laws must be enforced by law enforcement agents.
“So, anybody wearing EDSTMA uniform by whatever ID cards they have, all of them are fake, because none of them has appointment letters. All those I have seen, I have asked them, ‘where are your appointment letters?’ And they said, ‘I don’t have’. Even the few with IDs, they are the old ID cards of people we have disbanded. So, I have directed the Commissioner, and he must ensure that he searches everybody and collects all the illegal ID cards that they are parading.
“Let me use this medium to advise road users. Nobody should part with one naira, whether it is called fine, it is called levy, it is called tax, or by whatever name called. No cash transaction is permitted by Edo State Government. We want the roads to be free, but we don’t want them to be taken over by thugs. This government will not accept thuggery.
“So, anybody, from now on who calls himself EDSTMA official, we will arrest, prosecute and send to Oko prison. So, I have warned everybody. So, all of you wearing this EDSTMA uniform, go in now and remove them. If you don’t remove them, any of you found with them will be dealt with,” he said.