A pastor, Rasaq Adewunmi, has accused the Ogun State Traffic Compliance and Enforcement Corps of refusing to release his impounded motorcycle after he had paid the fine imposed by the agency.
It was gathered that Adewunmi was arrested by some officers of the corps on June 22, 2019, around the Ijuri bus stop on the Atan/Agbara Road in the state for not wearing a crash helmet.
We learnt that the team, led by one B. O. Akinwande, impounded Adewunmi’s motorcycle with number plate EKY 104 QF and fined him N5,000.
Our correspondent learnt that Adewunmi was re-booked for N16,000 after he protested the initial fine of N5,000.
According to Adewunmi’s lawyer, Sunday Jidonu, all efforts to get the motorcycle released after paying the fine have proved abortive as the corps allegedly asked for an extra N1,000 for each day the motorcycle spent in its custody.
Jidonu said, “TRACE just embarked on the illegal seizure of motorcycles from indigent citizens and impose arbitrary fines that are not stipulated in its enabling law.
“The agency impounded my client’s motorcycle because he was not wearing a crash helmet and fined him N5,000, but when he protested that he was not using the motorcycle for commercial purposes, the team led by B. O. Akinwande, assaulted my client, collected the N5,000 ticket from him and re-booked him for N16,000 and threatened to sell the motorcycle after five months.
“When my client was unable to pay the N16,000, he took notable persons to the agency to beg on his behalf, but all to no avail; and when he came to me, I asked him to pay the fine and after the payment, I wrote a letter and took it to their office in Ijuri, but to my amazement, what I saw there was nothing to write home about. The officers treat people with disdain.
“I spoke to the boss in charge of the unit and he said he would not release the motorcycle after the payment of the fine. According to him, under the TRACE law, there is an additional payment of N1,000 per day for the number of the days the motorcycle spends in their custody.
“I told the boss that if my client had paid an arbitrary fine of N16,000, he should not be made to pay any additional fine, but he refused and said he was not going to release the motorcycle. I later realised that the officers were impounding people’s motorcycles at will and imposing arbitrary fines on them.”
Jidonu told our correspondent that he had petitioned the state government, the attorney-general of the state and the state commandant of TRACE on the matter, adding that he had yet to receive any response from them.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer, TRACE, Babatunde Akinbiyi, stated that it was Adewunmi that made issues with the officers, adding that the additional N1,000 for each day a motorcycle spent in the agency’s custody was gazetted in its law.
He said, “I learnt that when the incident happened, he made issues with the officers and after paying the amount he was asked to pay, he started making issues again when the custody of the motorcycle was to be settled.
“He did not come for the motorcycle until the fourth month and it is gazetted that if any motorcycle sleeps overnight in any of the commands, the owner will pay N1,000. Nobody is trying to swindle anybody. It was when he could not pay that he started making issues.”