It is interesting reading the reaction of the Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, after a bullion van belonging to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rammed into his convoy, last week.
Speaking through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Juwon Soyinka, the governor expressed disappointment at the reckless manner in which the CBN bullion van convoy moved on the road and warned that such act of impunity will no longer be tolerated within the State.
It was good news that neither the governor nor any other person involved in the accident lost their lives. It was equally good that a highly placed individual like the governor was a victim of such reckless act, which has long become a daily occurrence on our roads.
Shortly after assuming office in 2012, the former Inspector General of Police(IGP), Mohammed Abubakar, just like many of his predecessors, banned indiscriminate use of siren, revolving light, tinted glasses and police super numeracy plate number by unauthorized persons.
His reason was that security reports indicated that criminals evading arrest were hiding under the cover of official privileges and courtesies associated with siren, revolving light and super numeracy plate numbers.
He, consequently, directed all Zonal Assistant Inspectors-General and Commissioners of Police to ensure that all violators of the law were arrested and brought to book.
Some State Commissioners of Police then, including Tunde Ogunsakin of Rivers State, went further to “domesticate” the order by banning the use of these items in their states, saying they were threats to internal security and were grossly abused.
However, many years down the road, the situation is far from being better. Rather than abating, it worsens daily. Today, in many states of the country, siren and revolving lights are used with reckless abandon, particularly by escorts of bullion vans, escorts of VIPs, the Police and other law enforcement agencies.
A military personnel going to work blares siren to intimidate people. A policeman attached to a politician, when taking a house help to the market or escorting children to school, puts on siren and revolving light. The police, military,even custom officers take one way recklessly, using siren and revolving light.
In other sane climes, the Police, Army, Navy and other security personnel obey the law. In Nigeria, the reverse is the case. There seems to be an unwritten law, authorising anybody in the police, military and para military uniforms including bullion van drivers to violate traffic rules. Adherence to traffic rules is not meant for them as long as they are in their uniforms.
It is common place on our roads to see policemen and other traffic officers, ordering drivers on their right of way, especially at traffic jam to make way for another vehicle with siren and revolving light, which is probably escorting money or some persons who they think are more important than other Nigerians. Many avoidable accidents have occurred as a result of these unlawful,reckless and provoking acts.
It is, therefore, hoped that the Amosun’s experience will bring about total enforcement of existing traffic laws in the country by those responsible. Adherence to traffic laws should not be for ordinary citizens while security personnel and the “big boys “ behave any how they like.
The Federal Road Safety Corps should wake up to its responsibility of maintaining safety on our roads and ensuring that whoever violates traffic rules answers for it irrespective of his class or status. No doubt, there are occasions where security agencies are expected to use siren, but even at such times, they should not be indifferent to the rights and comforts of other road users.