FRSC has no business on urban roads

Despicably in a manner similar to many Nigerians paid by the public purse and given a uniform to wear to discharge of their duties, errant…

Despicably in a manner similar to many Nigerians paid by the public purse and given a uniform to wear to discharge of their duties, errant staff of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) do not regard their uniform as a call to public service, but rather as license to trample citizens’ rights, and behave as they please! In fairness to the corps, they recognise the problem and have dismissed many employees for corruption, and other actions detrimental to the reputation of the FRSC.   

Back in 2015, Deputy Corps Marshal Charles Theophilus publicly warned staff against corrupt practices, claiming that “measures have been put in place to stop anything that has to do with corruption within the system”. Yet two years later in 2017, 25 staff were sacked for corrupt practices. The then Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, said a “massive self-cleansing exercise was in action to rid the corps of corrupt officials”.

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Two years down the line in 2019, 62 staff comprising 14 officers and 48 marshals were dismissed after internal investigations, while separate investigations by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) led to disciplinary action against 172 two others!

Again in 2020, 18 officers were dismissed for misconduct, and 10 were “sanctioned for indiscipline” and demoted. The Corps Public Education Officer (CPEO), Bisi Kazeem, said those affected had been involved in forgery, number plate and license racketeering, bribery and scandalous patrol misconduct.  

Regrettably, this has become the public perception of FRSC staff priorities. The corps’ once stellar reputation has been rubbished to the extent that they are now widely regarded as a nuisance on the road, rather than as a beneficial public service.

The social media is replete with videos of FRSC staff demanding or receiving bribes; causing accidents by attempting to forcibly stop trailers within too short a distance; assaulting commercial drivers and even passengers, precariously clinging on to vehicles while attempting to detain urban drivers, or otherwise behaving inappropriately.

The process of laying a complaint against them is cumbersome and is designed for disciplinary purposes, not for compensation or redress. Complainants are advised to seek redress in court if they are not satisfied. Most Nigerians have neither the time nor money to prosecute anybody for a breach of their rights, consequently, FRSC staff get away with most of their ill-disciplined outright illegalities.  

Fortunately, in defence of civil rights, several lawyers who were victims of FRSC excesses and used their time and expertise for litigation, successfully obtained judgments against them. A lawyer, Tope Alabi, who was fined N3,000 and his vehicle impounded, successfully sued FRSC resulting in a Federal High Court in Lagos declaring that corps do not constitute a court of law, and cannot be accuser and judge in their own case therefore, they have no legal powers to impose fines on motorists.

In his judgement, Justice Tsoho stressed that it’s a cardinal principle of natural justice that no person can be condemned without being given a fair hearing. Section 6 of the Constitution vests such judicial powers of fair hearing in the courts. It stands to reason that no law can be enforced through unconstitutional means; therefore Section 28(2) of the FRSC Act 2007 which “empowers” the Corps to fine motorists and enforce traffic laws in an illegal manner is an unconstitutional and unenforceable legal absurdity!  

Meanwhile, the Judiciary must be commended for several judgments condemning FRSC’s disrespect for citizens’ rights and their serial illegalities, while urging them to focus on their core duty of making federal expressways safer and less accident-prone. The Court of Appeal in Asaba Delta State affirmed a judgement of the Federal High Court in Warri which held that the FRSC can only operate on federal roads. The Court ruled in favour of the plaintiff Darlington Ehikim, a member of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and issued orders restraining FRSC from operating on roads other than federal highways.  

If the corps is to remain true to its stated mission of minimising road traffic accidents and creating a safer motoring environment, surely the first step is to ensure that future generations of drivers are properly trained and tested in driving skills, knowledge of road signs and road courtesy. Yet lamentably FRSC staff don’t concern themselves with training or testing drivers, but concentrate all their energies on personal gratification and institutional revenue generation through extortion and collecting fees or fines respectively!

In the absence of training or testing the only beneficial function to which FRSC patrol personnel can be put in urban areas is to operate in front of motor parks checking commercial vehicles commencing their journeys. They are well advised to leave urban drivers alone, desist from trying to obtain from them, regain their focus and concentrate their major efforts on modern methods of seriously reducing the daily carnage on federal expressways.

A total of 62 personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) have been sacked over corruption related issues. The FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr. Boboye Oyeyemi, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, said the 62 personnel were sacked in 2019 alone, and they comprised 14 officers…

Source : The Daily Trust

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