Motorists, commuters decry extortion on Lagos highways
Motorists and commuters in Iyana-Ipaja, Alakuko, and Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State have decried alleged incessant attacks and extortion by some suspected miscreants whenever their vehicles developed faults on the highway.
The motorists, who spoke with PUNCH Metro on Tuesday, noted that the miscreants are in the habit of extorting money from them, causing damage to vehicles, and in some instances, attacking them whenever their vehicles develop faults on the highway.
Some of the motorists who spoke with our correspondent said that rather than offering to help whenever their vehicles developed faults, these miscreants would ask them to pay for the faulty vehicle, often called “owo omotaku.”
A motorist on the Adeniji-Adele end of the Third Mainland Bridge, Rotimi Henry, recounted how he had to part with his money before he could be allowed to fix his flat tire on the highway.
He said, “I am a victim of the miscreants’ menace on the Third Mainland Bridge and at Ijora Bridge, respectively. The Third Mainland Bridge incident occurred on a Thursday afternoon. I had a flat tyre, so I stopped to change the tyre. Before I knew what was happening, about six boys had surrounded me. I even thought they wanted to assist me, but one of them said my money was N50,000.
“I replied jokingly, ‘You say wetin? ( what did you say)’ He responded, ‘You think they are joking? That no police will stop to rescue me.’ I was like, seriously? They didn’t even allow me to work on changing my tire until I paid them their money. I was able to cough up N15,000 before they allowed me.
“The Ijora Bridge incident was on a Sunday morning. My battery was having issues, which I was trying to resolve. So the car goes off on that bridge that Sunday morning. Before I knew what was happening, about four boys surrounded me, saying that since I had opened my bonnet, I had to pay N25,000. I asked for what?’
“One of them nearly punched me if not that I waved it off. There were police and other security officers around, and they were the ones telling me to give them their money, or else they would vandalise my car. I had to start begging and calling people to solicit money. I paid N20,000 to those boys before they allowed the technician I called to work on the car.”
A trader, Esther Badmus, noted that anytime she is conveying her goods from Ogun to Lagos State, she is always scared of passing through Alakuko axis of the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway because the miscreants will demand money from them, and if they fail to pay, they can resort to damaging their vehicles.
She said, “What we are experiencing on Lagos roads is hell. Before you can transport your goods to the market successfully, you must plan for the money of the miscreants who are not offering any services for you. Anytime they spot any vehicle with goods, they will come out in their numbers and start shouting, ‘Where is our money?’ If you refuse to give them, they can remove your wiper or damage your side mirror. They don’t care if your goods get spoiled or not. It is even worse when your vehicle develops a fault; they will ask you to pay owo omotaku.”
She appealed to the Lagos State Government to come to the aid of road users and rid the highways of these miscreants, whom she described as having no tangible contributions to society, rather than causing pain to road users.
“We are appealing to the government to help us get these miscreants off the highway because they are only causing pain to the people with no meaningful contribution to society,” she said
Contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, asked our reporter to send a text but did not respond as of the time of filing this report.