*Meets with NURTW, RTEAN to address use of commercial buses by kidnappers
By Evelyn Usman
The era of policemen entering commercial buses in Lagos state, claiming to ‘be staff ‘ in order to avoid paying their fares may be over, following a directive by the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Fatai Owoseni to all commercial bus drivers to collect their fares from them.
This directive was given during a meeting between Owoseni and members of the major transport unions: National Union of Road Transport Worker, NURTW and the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria, RTEAN at the command’s headquarters, Ikeja.
The meeting, came on the heels of report of the use of commercial buses and tricycles by ritualists and kidnappers to perpetrate heinous crimes.
For instance victims of these crimes who managed to escape, had recounted their ordeals in the hands of these criminals, verbally to the police and through the social media.
Addressing leaders of the unions and their members at the crowded conference hall, Owoseni said “ our concern here is using commercial buses to kidnap for ritual purpose or ransom. There are cases where some people said they boarded commercial vehicles in Surulere but found themselves in Ikorodu. In some cases they said once they entered the bus, the driver or conductor would bring out a handkerchief and the moment it is waved, victims would fall asleep.
In essence, they are accusing some of your members of using charms to convey them to these strange destinations. Some of the evidences we got was that they were taken to uncompleted buildings where victims were either used for ritual purpose or kidnapped for ransom
“ Criminal also use your buses to steal, robbers use your garages to keep their arms , some of your members beat traffic regulations while some of your drivers pick passengers at any given points that are not bus-stops.
Everything government is doing is to change the narrative and to change the phase of things for good. Therefore, let the change begins with RTEAN and NURTW. Let us join hands together to stop one-chance and kidnapping for ransom or ritual . Let us join hands to ensure that passengers are picked at designated motor parks and also ensure they are safe ”..
Pay your fare
Assuring the unions members of police full support in the fight against kidnapping and all forms of criminality through the use of commercial buses in the state, Owoseni directed them to always collect their fares from any policeman who boarded their buses, irrespective of his rank.
He said : “ Don’ t allow yourself to be oppressed by a policeman. There is nothing as ‘ staff ‘. They are paid their transport allowance. Besides, some of them are not genuine policemen . Some of them have either been dismissed or are Supernumerary Police otherwise known as SPY” .
He also directed the unions members to stop giving any policeman monetary returns, be it to the Divisional Police Officers under which their garages are located or policemen on the road.
Responding, chairman, Lagos branch of RTEAN, Mohammed Musa, informed that the union had instituted a task force as well as sensitization and disciplinary committees to checkmate excesses of its members under its zones.
He assured the CP that his members would work with the police in ensuring that miscreants who used commercial buses to perpetrate heinous crimes in the state were arrested and handed over to the police.
He however, lamented that the major problem being confronted by the union was from the police, noting that from Mile-Two to Seme border , there were over 10 police checkpoints , where drivers from his zones were allegedly extorted at will.
On his part, chairman of the NURTW, Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede ,who described the meeting as a right step in the right direction towards addressing the worrisome trend, disclosed that plans were ongoing to ensure that all vehicles operating in parks within the state were registered and given particular numbers for easy identification in the event of any crime.
He also revealed that Close Circuit Televisions had been mounted in some of the union’s garages, calling on passengers to always board buses at garages to avoid falling victims of kidnap or any other crime.