There is a sudden twist in the attitude of the Nigeria Police Force in Edo state that usually complain of lack of logistics in responding to calls to fight crime to one that have become an active investor in going after drivers without valid vehicle documentation.
A wireless message document of the police surfaced the social media few days wherein the police were to mobilize for the constitution of a mobile court to try alleged traffic offenders code named operation velvet. In the wireless message, Divisional Police Officers were directed to make arrangements for chairs, tables, canopies and other requirements for a ‘judge’ to sit on such cases.
It is settled in law that, the registration of vehicles and issuance of driver’s licence falls within the jurisdiction of state government. As a matter of fact, it is called ‘road tax’. Edo state government has three agencies enabled by statutes to enforce road tax. They are the Vehicle Inspection Officer (directorate), Edo State Traffic Management Agency (EDSTMA and Edo State Internal Revenue Service (EIRS).
It is baffling that these agencies of the state have negated their duties to the police who have become an investor in the setting up of mobile courts to collect revenue on behalf of the government. Not just that alone, cash are being collected as fines in the mobile courts at a time one is mandated to make bank deposit of N200 to get an affidavit sworn to in the court.
Police officers that display inertia and will not move a foot to fight against criminals when called upon if not mobilized financially now has money to invest in the collection of fine using the mobile courts because money will be made from the exercise. This is amazingly surprising to say the least.
The new Commissioner of Police should be told that, the enthusiastic job of going after drivers with invalid vehicle papers can be handled by state government agencies and he should focus on taking down armed robbers, kidnappers and all other violent crimes in Edo state. Why should this be his first assignment in the state when we have arrays of crimes confronting us?
Reports from the mobile courts have revealed a collaboration between the police and the magistrates in ensuring that anybody brought before it must be guilty. Mobile courts are more of legalized jungle justice where a suspect MUST be guilty without fair trial.
Edo state government should as a matter of urgency disband the operation of the police and the mobile courts and give directives to state owned agencies to do the job as stipulated in the laws of Edo state. The police that have abandoned their jobs for local vigilantes cannot become active at once on an issue that borders on revenue for their pockets.
The police is not a revenue collection agency.
Leftist Osazee Edigin is an Activist and two time Public Relations Officer of Edo Civil Society Organisations.