BY Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
President Muhammadu Buhari may be thumping his chest in self adulation over his much cherished anti-corruption war, but the crusade may not be more than a mere conceptual variable given the evidence that corrupt practices and officials are still very active under his watch. Officials working under Buhari, are aware that he abhors corrupt tendencies like a plague and would, therefore, not hesitate to wield the big stick against anyone who indulges in graft or any semblance of fraud.
Even before the war claims the expected casualties in the administration, the United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, who was in Nigeria last week, poured encomiums on Buhari, describing Nigeria under him as the regional leader in anti-corruption fight.
Nonetheless, corruption woven into projects and programmes designed for ‘public safety with mass appeal’ still thrives right under Buhari’s nose without his suspicion. Key officials of his administration cleverly design and dress such malevolent projects in the garb ‘overall national interest’ and pass them to the president for assent without smelling a rat.
By so doing, the fear has in itself, invariably emboldened top officials in his administration to evolve seemingly innocuous but highly tainted schemes to rip off unsuspecting Nigerians in the process. One of such scams is currently being packaged by the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, a first grade service provider under the direct supervision of the Presidency via the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, OSGF.
Under the highly contentious scheme, which most Nigerians have already kicked against, the FRSC in conjunction with other powerful federal government agencies, hopes to draw blood from poor Nigerian commercial drivers and smile to the bank with close to about N900 billion under the guise of installing a novel ‘speed limiter technology on all commercial vehicles plying Nigerian roads in the first phase with effect from October 1, 2016.
The Presidency officials appear to have been ‘tripped’ by the huge potentials and unrivalled benefits of the speed limiter which would see no fewer than 25 million commercial drivers coughing out N36,000 each to be able to install the ‘life-saving’ devices in their vehicles.
In the second phase, all vehicle owners in Nigeria, are to be taxed with yet to be determined fee to clamp the same device on their vehicles in a bid to ensure safety on the road and bring Nigeria into the class of hi-tech nations on highway safety, according to the FRSC.
The project is simple and no right-thinking person can resist the ‘essential and life-saving’ project, which, according to the commission, is overdue in Nigeria. But Nigerians are not eager to go along with the FRSC in its current move to introduce speed limiter technology on their vehicles for many reasons. The commission made a fortune from Nigerians not long ago and showed no remorse for its greed. It introduced two sets of plate numbers and exacted huge sums of money from motorists by force.
Within two years, FRSC introduced a plate numbering system that made Nigerians to cough out between N7500 to N1000. While that numbering style was about to stabilise, the commission changed the format and introduced a new set of fees and enforced it across board without looking back at the financial implications to the poor Nigerians.
Paradoxically, while the controversy over the vexatious plate numbering system and its obnoxious fee is yet to settle, the FRSC is confronting Nigerian motorists with yet another compulsory fee-paying device dubbed “Speed Limiter”, against strident opposition from relevant stakeholders and Nigerian motorists. Under the scheme, which is slated to take off in earnest by October 1, 2016, FRSC has imposed a mandatory fee of N3600 per each commercial vehicle to be paid upfront
for the ‘installation’ of the Speed Limiter technology by firms it has already selected and given the go-ahead to get the devices on standby. As at date, the owners of the firms, their level of competence and the criteria used in picking them, are only known to the top echelon of the FRSC.
The commission however insists that it selected the ‘lucky 16 vendors’ in Conjunction with the Standards Organization of Nigeria, SON, and the Nigerian Automotive and Development Council, NAC. See the list here:1 Best practices Ltd 2 Cnet Technology Ltd 3 De Akasten Nike Nig. Ltd 4 Digiquest Integrated Services Ltd 5 Elkaris Nig. Ltd 6 Filkmou Limited 7 Highway Digital Nigeria Ltd 8 Marbash Global Trading 9 Rexox Integrated Services Ltd 10 Richfield technologies Ltd 11 SATTRAK SERVICES LTD 12 Summit Systems ltd 13 T zone communications Ltd 14 Total UNIQUE SERVICES 15 Transit Support Services Ltd 16 Xnet Security Technologies Ltd.
Findings by Vanguard however indicate that the FRSC might have been driven the more by the commercial interest rather than safety preference in selecting the Speed Limiter Device over “Spider Technology,’ another speed limiting device, which is the most widely used by countries in developed and developing nations.
It was gathered that while two vendors for Speed Limiter and Spider technology devices submitted their proposals in 2015 to the Presidency and the FRSC, the key officials responsible for vetting and bringing the two proposals to the attention of Mr. President, opted for the Speed Limiter apparently because of what they stood to gain once the project was approved by the President.
The summary of the speed limiter is that the vendors will install some devices in each commercial vehicle, making it to operate within the stipulated speed limit. Notwithstanding the danger associated with such technology, like a chase by armed robbers, kidnappers and terrorists, the FRSC, insists it must be clamped on Nigerian vehicles with effect from October 1, having missed the first set date of April 1, 2015.
Thus, even under the former SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, a top aide working with key elements in the FRSC made a strong case for Speed Limiter and downplayed the vitality of the Spider technology device, whose proposal is to make more money directly into the federal government purse as opposed to the speed limiter technology, which could enrich a few individuals working for some powerful elements in the government of Nigeria.
Clearly, all the huge money to be paid by drivers is to be paid directly by vehicle owners and the entire money given to the vendors and their cronies in government. The list of the owners when checked with the Corporate Affairs Commission may eventually reveal who the proxies and their real owners are.
Even if the road safety agency disputes that the number is not up to 25 million, it still expects to rake in billions of Naira from the controversial scheme. But, according to the agency, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the revenue accruing from the sales o the devices, as the vendors are not part of the commission but private businessmen. None of the speed devices is manufactured in Nigeria but are to be imported with hard earned foreign exchange from Asia, particularly, China and India, and further drain the nation’s economy, which is said to be in real recession.
The money is expected to be paid directly to the ’16 lucky speed limiter vendors chosen by the FRSC, SON and NAC while nothing gets into the purse of the Federal Government.
Thus, with just one scheme, a few lucky Nigerians working in gloves with top officials of the FRSC would pocket close to N1 trillion and smile to their banks. Although the FRSC is starting with commercial vehicles in the first phase, with the compulsory N36,000 payment per vehicle, it hopes to extend it to all car owners in Nigeria under the next
phase but the fee is yet to be rolled out. So, more money will still pass from Nigerians into the hands of the vendors and the FRSC. On the other hand, the Spider tech combines speed limit with security and employment, and promises to generate huge sum of money into the purse of the federal government strictly from traffic offenders and not all vehicle owners.
Under the proposal, which is still with both the Office of the SGF and the FRSC, the service providers are to procure operational vehicles fitted with security cameras that record and transmit traffic offences to both the drivers and the control centres of the FRSC and fines imposed on the defaulters with specific dates and time to pay. The vendors also offer to train the FRSC officials on the use and operation of the technology, which is what is deployed by security agencies in the U.S, UK, Germany, and other parts of the world.
The fines generated from the defaulting vehicles, according to a copy of the proposal to the Presidency, are to be shared on an agreed proportion between the vendor and the federal government. One of the vendors is proposing taking 70 percent and remitting 30 percent to the FRSC since the company is to supply all the hardware, vehicles, and ambulances for FRSC and create a wavelength for the operation across the country.
“Our proposal is that a dedicated account should be opened by the FRSC with the Central Bank of Nigeria where all fines from defaulting vehicle owners are paid into and then shared on the agreed ration of 70:30 to the vendor and the FRSC to enable us to recoup our initial investment and then reduce our own share to 50 percent in the next five years,” one of the vendors, whose paper is yet to receive a reply from the SGF and the FRSC, said.
As lofty as the proposal by the spider technology provider was, both the FRSC and the SGF, have not not considered their option. While the two offices have concluded arrangements with the 16 vendors of the speed limiter technology to start providing services at the cost of N36,000 per commercial vehicle on October 1, the two offices have kept mute on the spider technology proposal.
Two letters sent to them in 2014 and another one on May 23, 2016, have neither been responded to nor given any serious attention. The SGF, it was learnt, had read the proposal and was very happy with the fact that apart from controlling speed, the spider technology would also generate money for the federal
government. According to sources close to the SGF, David Babachir Lawal was so impressed by the proposal that he immediately minuted on the paper to one of the directors in his office to work on it with a view to sending a brief to President Buhari for comparison with the speed limiter and possible approval of the latter because of its immense benefits. But that was the end of the matter.
Findings revealed that once some interested parties in the SGF office who had already been promised some financial rewards from the expected N900 billion to be generated from the Speed Limiter vendors got wind of the spider technology proposal, they decided to sit on it.
True to their plot, there has been no word from the SGF’s office with regards to the proposal many months after the SGF minuted on the file. All hands are now on deck to work for the realisation of the N900 billion to be shared between the lucky 16 firms and some powerful in government. They are warming up for October 1 so as to begin to draw from their own share of the likely “booty”. In Kenya, a regular example often cited by the FRSC as a success story of speed limiter, the
regulations require that only public service vehicles and commercial trucks with tare weight of over 3,048 kilogrammes fit tamper-proof speed recording devices. The recording facilities are merely applied to vehicles and to be downloaded with a view to challenging offending drivers in court.
It is not clamped to weigh down vehicle speed as the FRSC is planning to do in Nigeria. According to the Kenyan Transport Authority, “The new gadget has been improved from analogue to digital. It has the capacity to record the speed of a vehicle and store the information for several days.
The difference between the old gadgets and the new ones is that with the latter, apart from recording and storing speed data, the information can also be downloaded.
“This is important because the work of traffic police officers has been made easier with the use of the gadget. Authorities will be able to download information before using it as evidence in court against defaulting motorists”. The obvious disadvantages of the Speed limiter technology coupled with mandatory N3600 levy to be imposed on motorists have raised many questions about the application of the device and force human right groups and the National Assembly to kick against its adoption in Nigeria.
But this rejection by the relevant stakeholders notwithstanding, the FRSC has defied all agencies and groups to push forward with its planned October 1 takeoff date.
Dissatisfied with the unilateral adoption of the Speed limiter and imposition of an outrageous N36000 levy on motorists, a human rights group-Registered Trustees of International Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Society sued the FRSC along with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, the National Automotive Council, NAC and the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW as well as the Attorney General of the Federation to stop the action.
In the main, the group prayed the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Evo Chukwu to determine whether the FRSC has the right to apply speed limiting devices on motorists in Nigeria and to unilaterally appoint speed limiter vendors and impose the N36000 mandatory fee per motorist.
In the judgment delivered on April 7, 2016, Justice Evo Chukwu declared that though the FRSC had the right to apply speed control devices in order to make the highway safer, it did not have the right to impose the huge fee of N36000 per motorist. “So based on the forgoing, I am inclined to hold that the enforcement or the provision by the FRSC that speed limiter devices be installed in vehicles in Nigeria is within the purview of its powers,” the judge ruled.
”What I must state here is that the Act establishing the FRSC never entitled them to limit the scope from where ordinary Nigerians can buy speed limiter nor did the Act allow them the monopoly to install at astronomical price of N36,000 on innocent Nigerians who are already groaning in abject poverty and I so hold,” Justice Chukwu also decided.
In fact, it was based on the court decision that many members of the House of Representatives frontally opposed the application of the speed limiter on Nigerian vehicles, saying that the device was obsolete and could expose Nigerians to more dangers in the hands of criminals – rapists, kidnappers, armed robbers and terrorists.
The fear of the lawmakers, like others, who are familiar with the outdated speed device, is that if an innocent motorist, whose car has been clamped with the speed limiting device, is pursued by a criminal whose vehicle is not ‘speed-limited’, the former would be an easy prey to the latter. That was why the lawmakers summoned the Corps Marshal of the Federation, Boboye Oyeyemi to explain to them why the planned use of the device should not be discontinued with immediate effect.
The sponsor of the motion under Matters of urgent public importance, Mr. Phillip Shuaibu (APC-Edo), expressed the fear that the application of the device could expose innocent motorists to avoidable assassination and car snatching in the hands of evil-minded persons and should be discarded.
The lawmaker reminded the FRSC that the speed limiter had been used and discarded by other countries because of its obvious limitations and suggested that the Spider technology, which is being used by all other countries because of its foul-proof and safety features be adopted by Nigeria in place of the speed limiter. Shuaibu advocated the use of an alternative applicable technology known as Spider Technology which uses high technology mobile cameras installed on FRSC patrol vehicles to detect, monitor and track speed limits on highways.
“The spider technology will generate revenue into government coffers as defaulters will pay levies unlike the speed limit technology that profits only the suppliers,” the lawmaker said.
Almost all the contributing lawmakers to the debate, were unanimous in rejecting the decision of the FRSC to use speed limiter instead of Spider technology because of the obvious advantages the latter offers. Mr. Johnson Agbonayinman (PDP-Edo), Mr. Abubakar Chika (APC-Niger) and Mrs. Onyemaechi Mrakpor (PDP-Delta), all kicked against the application of the speed limiter, saying that it would amount to dumping an outdated technology on Nigeria and exacerbating the suffering of Nigerians by imposing N36,000 per motorist for the device.
“It’s unacceptable for someone to come through the back door to introduce a device that will rip off Nigerians,” he said adding “I think what is needed is to ensure that there are speed breakers where they are necessary and let the road signs be there and for people to obey them,” Agbonayinman said. “The condition is so bad that some people, for instance the commercial vehicle drivers, now cut and join wires to enable them start their vehicles and where do you want them to get the money for speed limiters,” Mrakpor questioned.
Even the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara , spoke harshly against the planned device and the huge amount imposed per vehicle owner, saying that most families in the country were finding it very difficult to survive and did not see the justification to add to their economic woes.
“Almost all families are bleeding financially and it will be callous to impose this device on them,” Dogara pointed out, but referred the matter to a committee to work on. But despite the stiff opposition from the lawmakers and the court statement on the commission imposing the huge fee of N36,000 per vehicle and choosing the vendors for the supply of the devices, the FRSC Chief Executive, Boboye Oyeyemi, is adamant, insisting that the project must go on as planned.
He told one of our correspondents that the commission would not back down on the project and would not consider the proposal for the provision of the more preferred Spider technology in spite of the fact that the vendor ‘asked to be paid 70 percent of the fines to be generated and a waiver from the CBN to open a buffer account.
“ It is not workable and this is the major problem we are having with all these consultants. Fines generated by the corps go to the consolidated revenue fund. The FRSC does not appropriate fines; we don’t touch it. The money goes straight to the government. It is an impossible task, unless it is in the budgetary provision,” Oyeyemi said.
“But for me to do this, we are talking of five years, the spider technology firm would be getting 70 per cent and government 30 per cent of the entire fines. This is not realistic. I think the
contractor must have misled some members of the House of Representatives. We are talking about restraining speed and somebody is talking about speed monitoring and installation of cameras for the roads. It is not the responsibility of the FRSC to provide road infrastructure. It is the responsibility of the state.”
The CMCE denied that the firms licensed to provide the speed limiters have any relationship with officials of the commission and other top government functionaries, pointing out, “that is not true. That is a wild allegation. Anybody who has the evidence should present it and I detest that kind of insinuation.
“When agencies are bringing programmes that will save the country from destruction, we should not be reading meanings into it. No member of the corps is involved or has somebody fronting for him. If they have evidence against any of them, they should bring it out and immediate prosecution by appropriate agencies should be done. I stand by this, no member of management has any vested interest in it.
My interest is seeing that crashes on our highways are reduced. And it would be my joy if I can succeed, if I can get this done.”
Oyeyemi also said the price of N36000 to be paid by each vehicle owner was jointly decided by the trio of FRSC and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria have done as a policy measure but added that it would eventually be regulated by market forces. The Corps Marshal, who dismissed all insinuations about the speed limiter, paid glowing tribute to the device, saying that it was not outdated as claimed by most commentators. In a detailed response to Vanguard enquiry, the FRSC justified why it chose Speed limiter over the Spider technology.
He said,”The technology being introduced is not outdated. It is important to note that the spider technology can only detect speed of a vehicle in motion upon which a ticket issued, where it is discovered that the vehicle is speeding above the prescribed limit. The speed limiting device technology, however, is an involuntary device that can prevent a vehicle from speeding beyond the calibrated speed.
“Even though the FRSC is conscious that no technology or strategy can effectively work without the buy-in of motorists, the Corps however desires for Nigeria a technology that can make motorists not to over speed. In other words, the speed limiter technology is a proactive measure that prevents speeding and its fatal consequences as against spider technology which is reactive, waiting to be deployed and catch and arrest erring speed violators after the deed had been done, which would have led to serious injuries or fatality in the case of a crash.
“The speed limiter technology is tamper-proof and can generate report automatically by inserting a USB drive. How can this be said to be outdated? he queried.
Boboye dismissed the fear that device would unduly expose car owners to avoidable dangers in the hands of criminals-kidnappers, armed robbers and assassins. His argument is that the excuse of escaping from robbery scene or kidnappers cannot be the sole reason for refusal to install speed limiter in a vehicle.
According to him, most robberies or carjacking do not involve chasing the victims, but surprising the victims through sudden attack to immobilize or stop the victim’s vehicles. Even where the car jackers or armed robbers desire to pursue the victim or where the victim intends to escape from a robbery scene, it should be noted that when the goal of ensuring all vehicles are fitted with the speed limiting device is achieved, all vehicles, either that of the armed robber or his victim would not be able to drive above the mandatory speed limit.
“The idea of speed limiter is not novel as countries that have relatively safe highways had introduced the mandatory use of speed limiters to regulate vehicle speed. “There are currently many countries that have speed limiting laws which made speed limiting devices compulsory for commercial vehicles. Most of the countries have even introduced additional stringent measures to make speed limiters more effective in their countries.
Countries such as United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Philippines, Finland, Japan, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and a host of others are using the Speed Limiting Device to positive advantage. The truth however is that most of this countries are using more of speed monitoring devices like the spider technology with security cameras to track down defaulting drivers and fine them rather than slam a general fee and install speed limiters on vehicles as the FRSC plans to do in Nigeria.
Oyeyemi dismissed the notion that his commission was out to rip off Nigerians off with the fee imposed on commercial vehicles saying that FRSC was not a profit-making agency.
Hear him: “The FRSC is not a profit making organization and therefore does not engage in product marketing. The FRSC as a regulator of road traffic and enforcer of traffic rules only provides the enabling environment for any suitably qualified vendor to provide safety products that can promote safety in the country. This was what was done in collaboration with other regulatory agencies that make up the speed limiters technical committee.
“These agencies are Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and National Automobile Design and Development Council (NADDC), so as to set the standards and regulate the firms certified to procure, sell, install, and maintain speed limiters. “The regulation does not affect the pricing, as the market forces are expected to determine what prices they would be sold.
With a free market situation, it would be much easier for the fleet operators, especially those with large fleet to negotiate a reduction in price. In fact fleet operators with very large fleet of vehicles such as manufacturing companies and corporate bodies are upon application granted waivers to conduct in-house installation and calibration of speed limiters of their fleet, provided they satisfy the minimum prescribed standards.
“The Corps has no intention of limiting the scope of procuring the device or specifying who to purchase from. However, standards and specifications as prescribed by SON and NADDC will be enforced. “It is important to note here that apart from the safety benefits, the implementation of the programme has job creation potentials as the approved vendors have already trained over 200 technicians who have commenced installation of the limiters in vehicles. This number is expected to increase
when the second phase is commenced. Aside from this, some investors are already looking into the possibility of establishing speed limiting device manufacturing plants in Nigeria. It is within the purview of the Corps, as empowered by the National Assembly through the enactment of the FRSC Establishment Act (2007), to implement as a major strategy the safe-guard of lives and property of all road users. “A clear cut advantage of the speed limit device over the spider tech is the fact that spider tech only detects over speeding, whereas the speed limiting device ensures that drivers do not drive beyond the calibrated speed limit, and thus proactively prevents speeding and the fatal consequences of
same. But experts who are very familiar with the spider technology and system, have disagreed with the FRSC boss, pointing out that what he is bringing to Nigeria had since been discarded by other countries because of the obvious dangers associated with speed limiter technology.
A Psychologist, who has been deeply involved in road transport business and management in Nigeria and the U.S, Mr. Kalu E. Onwuka, says the superior benefits of Spider technology far outweigh those of the speed limiter and asked Mr. Oyeyemi to explain to Nigerians why the Chinese and Indians who manufacture the cheap devices do not use them in their own countries but prefer to ship them to Nigeria after being rejected by Kenya and Uganda.
Onwuka said in a response to Vanguard that the Spider technology does not only detect vehicle speed after an incident had occurred, but equally detects the speed as any road offence is being committed on the road and showcases the situation online and real time to the FRSC and any other associated security arm of the government the events on the roads and highways as they are happening.
Onwuka says, “The spider technology and system does not only issue offence tickets but notify the mobile courts across the nation on the offence being committed. Offence citation will be issued online and real-time to the offending vehicle owner and also caution or punish the driver as he will be losing money as long as the vehicle driver is violating the Nigerian road use rules and regulations as stipulated in FRSC act.
“Vehicle drivers that choose to violate the Nigeria road use and regulations are the only ones to be penalized. Under the spider technology, no Nigerian would be compelled or forced to spend money unless they commit road offence as opposed to the speed limiter, which is taxing the Nigerian vehicle owners to cough out N36,000 without committing any traffic offence.
“It sounds funny that Nigeria with all the security challenges with armed robbers, kidnappers, terrorists and assassins on the prowl, is thinking of applying speed limiters, which are tamper-proof and can easily be disconnected by daredevils, to vehicles in 2016. Kenya introduced the speed limiter in
their country but due to the technology ineffectiveness abolished the technology immediately. Kenya has the same challenge Nigeria has like terrorism, robbery on their roads, speeding and other road offences and violations.
“Note that no country in the world is currently using the speed limiter device due to many defects. Security-conscious nations now deploy the Spider technology to control their roads and highways because of the multi-dimensional devices built into one,” the security expert said.
However, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON and the National Automotive Development Council, which the FRSC mentioned as partners in the choice of speed limiter technology and the selection of the 16 vendors to import the devices into Nigeria, have spoken out on the level of their involvement in the device.
The Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Dr. Paul Angya, in a reply to Vanguard on the level of the agency’s involvement in the deal, said that his organisation was aware of the plan by the FRSC to introduce the new speed control device and had helped to screen the 16 vendors to import the devices into the country in its firm belief that the move would reduce road carnage in Nigeria.
Dr. Angya said that what Nigeria has chosen for now should be sufficient given our own condition but added that if a new technology is found to be more efficient, safe and cost effective than the speed limiter, SON would not hesitate to review its position. “Yes, we won’t hesitate to go for a better option because in SON we believe that standards are subject
to emerging technology and should be reviewed after three years. Speed limiter is a creation of the FRSC and SON was represented at the Public hearing in the House of Representatives and I have never heard of Spider technology. “As the technology takes off, we in SON will continue to weigh all the available options and will not hesitate to do the best that is possible for this country so as to save lives and property being carelessly destroyed by careless drivers on a daily basis.
“We are ready to weigh all options in the overall public interest of Nigerians,” Angya stated. On his part, the Director General of the National Automotive and Development Council, Dr. Aminu Jalal, also confirmed that his agency was brought into the picture of the project by the FRSC and that it assisted in testing the competence of the vendors chosen to supply the speed limiter to Nigeria. According to Jalal, only vendors who scored 70 percent and above based on a set of criteria were selected for the importation of the speed devices into the country.
Like his SON’s counterpart, Dr. Aminu Jalal said his council was never presented with the Spider technology proposal, having also never known about the said technology.
“I don’t even know about the spider tech proposal. What we had was that after the House of Representatives had approved the use of speed limiting devices by the FRSC, we were brought in to help vet the competence of the vendors and we approved about 16 of them with stringent conditions that they should open offices in Abuja and other parts of Nigeria so as to continue to provide the services, maintain and repair it for users.
“The N36000 to be paid by each car owner is a once off fee and we are not imposing fines because the question of fine does not arise since the device will not allow you to over speed. “If the government feels that the speed limit is too low, it can pass a law changing it higher because the current limit is what was set by law in the 80s.
“ Personally, I prefer the Speed limiter because fleet owners, like ABC bus, which are currently using it, are happy that they applied it to their fleet of buses across the country. “I also know that the House of Representatives approved the speed limiter to be used in the country and that was why we support it,” the DG explained.
But there appears to be major plot by aggrieved commercial vehicles owners to vent their anger against the introduction of the new speed device next month. The National Union of Road Transport Workers, which is seriously aggrieved by the plan, has decided to keep its plan action against the new device under wraps until a few days to the takeoff.
However, the National President of the NURTW, Alhaji Najeem Usman Yasin, told Vanguard that he would neither comment on the imposition of the N36000 flat levy on its members nor give the position of the powerful union until what he calls ‘the right time’. But Vanguard learnt from authoritative sources close to the NURTW that the transport workers plan to withdraw their vehicles from the road with effect from October 1 as a demonstration of their dissatisfaction with the FRSC action.
The commercial transporters are said to have argued that government was insensitive to the people by allowing the FRSC to impose a compulsory levy of N36,000 on them shortly after they had grudgingly accepted the huge financial burden brought upon them by the removal of fuel subsidy which eventually increased price of fuel.
“Does the President know that we the poor commercial vehicle workers who voted for him are being exploited by the FRSC and some powerful people in his government,” a senior official of the union asked our correspondent without expecting and answer. “Look, let me tell you, the commercial drivers will not pay that N36000 imposed by the FRSC. We are not going to say anything until that day comes and you will see if the FRSC and the Presidency can force all of us into the prison in order to collect the money.
But the human rights group that sued FRSC for trying to defraud Nigerians with the imposition of the N36000 compulsory speed limiter levy, International Human Rights and anti-corruption Society, IHRAS, has described the refusal of the road safety agency to respect the court ruling barring it from imposing the fee and the 16 speed limiter vendors on Nigerians, as an affront on the rule of law and a display of crass impunity. For this reason, the human rights group confirmed to Vanguard that it was going back to court to compel the FRSC chief executive and his officials to comply with the court ruling since it was not above the law.
Dr. Udofia O Udofia, the Director General of the IHRAS, said that it was wrong for the FRSC and its backers to turn the law on its head all in their quest to collect about N900 billion from innocent Nigerian motorists under the Buhari government whose major agenda is to fight graft. “We believe that it is either Buhari has not been properly briefed that top officials of his government are planning to scam Nigerians and make away with huge sum of money or he has been deceived to think that these people mean well for his government,” Udofia told our correspondent.
“If the FRSC does not respect the court ruling by Justice Evo Chukwu in our favour barring it from imposing the N36000 per commercial vehicle and imposing vendors on any Nigerian, why should Nigerians comply with its order? Udofia asked angrily.
“In any case, if the FRSC and their backers are sure that they are driven by pecuniary motives and that they mean well for Nigeria, why do they not show the country the comparative advantage of the so-called speed limiter they have chosen against the world acclaimed Spider technology that most countries use today? How much of the about N900 billion they are going to make will go to the federal government? This is the crucial question Mr. President should ask the FRSC and its backers.
“For us, we are watching to see if Buhari, who promised to tackle corruption would close his eyes to this latent rip off by a few well placed persons under him. Now is the time to stop these elements before it is too late,” the activist said.