The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority has confirmed the arrest of a fake traffic officer, Bamidele Omotutu, for extorting unsuspecting members of the public, including traffic offenders in the state, The Punch reports.
The Director of Public Affairs Department, LASTMA, Taofiq Adebayo, in a statement on Sunday, said the agency’s General Manager, Bolaji Oreagba, confirmed that the suspect was arrested at Olu Holloway Road, around the Alfred Rewane area of Ikoyi by a LASTMA Monitoring/Surveillance team led by the Zonal Head, Ashafa Moyosore.
Adebayo said Oreagba explained further that the agency carried out special monitoring/surveillance operations about the suspect and got him arrested in response to complaints from members of the public, Obinna Kingsley and Adewusi Adebola, via LASTMA hotlines/social media handles.
The statement read, “Investigation conducted revealed that the arrested suspect has been extorting huge sums of money from motorists for various traffic offences ranging from the seatbelt, obstructions, illegal overtaking and one-way at different locations around Lagos Island.
“It is disheartening to get complaints from road users, particularly motorists, on activities of these unscrupulous elements impersonating and extorting money from them.
“Mr Oreagba urged the general 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.”
Adebayo said Oreagba warned other impersonators disguising as LASTMA personnel to immediately desist from such illegal acts as more surveillance personnel had been deployed to hunt for them.
“The arrested suspect, Bamidele Omotutu, 55, confessed to having been using a reflective jacket to impersonate a LASTMA officer and extorting money from motorists’ particularly private car owners/ drivers at highbrow areas across the state. The suspect said he and his colleagues are making an average of N35,000 from extortion daily,” the statement added.
Narrating how he has been operating in the state, Omotutu said, “Any motorists, particularly private car owners I caught dropping someone at any undesignated bus stop, paid between N15,000 and N20,000 while those caught for driving against traffic paid a minimum of N35, 000.”
Meanwhile, the Director of the Legal Department, LASTMA, Kehinde Akerele, disclosed that the suspect would be charged to court with all items recovered from him, including a fake identity card and a reflective jacket on Monday, March 27, 2023, in accordance with the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State.