Where Is The Outrage? Take Action Now!

Change AIN’T gon’ come…

Olorungemstone

WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE?!

I am quite vexed this morning. I have been following EiE’s petition for Alams especially, to be banned from travelling and I am very disappointed that there have only been less than 1,500 signatures. A thousand five hundred signatures!!!

Really?!

So where are all the people who were making noise and ranting on twitter and facebook about Alams and all those other terrible people being pardoned? Where are you all? Where are all those people who were berating other Nigerians for throwing around #OgaAtTheTop jokes instead of slapping GEJ? C’mon! Surely we can do better than 1,445? Surely! I don send message to facebook friends so tay facebook blocked me from accessing my account. Let us all play a part here. Sign this petition.

 

1,000 signatures and counting!

Ex Justice Minister, Mike Aondoakaa, sues US for visa revocation. Ex IGP, Hafiz Ringim, seeks asylum…

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Navy KabuKabu: The Three Other Fingers

I grew up in what possibly remains, the sanest, most morally upright university campus in Nigeria – the University of Ibadan. I graduated from UI 10 years ago and, especially at that time, the code of ethics enforced by the old guard, many of whom are sadly approaching their terminal 70th year now, was such that vices like handouts-for-profits, sex-for-grades and victimisation were fiercely resisted. This old guard comprised academics who themselves were undergraduates at UI in its glory days and, afterwards, all seemed to find funding for post-graduate studies at the very best universities in the US and Great Britain. Almost a Knights Templar sort of elite, if you like. If your hands were clean, as a student (or a junior member of staff), you could certainly approach equity and equity would rise up in the sturdiest defence of your rights possible.

However, even in the midst of this austere probity and uprightness, there was plenty of the sort of behaviour that many have condemned in the past few days as “abuse of office”. For instance, if someone needed to attend a wedding or funeral outside Ibadan and (as was frequently the case back in the day) they didn’t have a car capable of doing interstate journeys, it was not out of place for one to speak to a friend who was a dean or head of department to borrow an official car and a driver, provided one fuelled the car and ensured the driver received a gratuity for his ‘overtime’. It was not a big deal.

Outside academia, even till the present time, it is not uncommon to find buses with government plate numbers ferrying large numbers of people to and from social events; events that have nothing to do with the official business of the government ministry or department – usually birthdays, weddings and funerals. Many would not give it a second thought or consider it unlawful use of government property.

The same thing probably happens in private establishments. Without thinking about it, many convert business resources to personal use. We’re on social media (or searching for other jobs online) on company time, we download music using the company’s bandwidth, we use the printers and photocopiers to copiously print private material, we use the company phones to make non-business calls, we run our on-the-side business with company resources and so on. Not a big deal either, right?

The fatal helicopter crash of the past weekend has caused many people to question the propriety of using  a naval helicopter to ferry guests between Port Harcourt and Oronto Douglas’s village. The question has been asked with such tenacity that it seems many consider it the issue on which everything around the crash turns. I don’t think the commandeering of the naval helicopter by personnel from the Presidency is any different from our penchant as a people to take advantages of privileges that are available to us. I also don’t think it matters as much as whether or not the aircraft was airworthy or verifying claims that it exploded mid-air rather than crash-landed.

Government must be kept on its toes and remain accountable, yes, but surely this is one of those “living in glass houses” and stone moments. We’re incensed and pointing angrily at the Presidency but, on this occasion, I believe the proverbial three fingers are pointing back at us. As we seek to reform government, we must be mindful that perhaps the greater fight is reforming ourselves, the pool from which government is drawn.

*Braces self for invectives*.

FLYING SOLO

When I quit my old job to go into solo practice, I looked for every single piece of advice I could find, to be sure I wasn’t being foolish. There was a lot of material on the internet about “flying solo” but it was all from the UK and the USA, which is fine until you remember that many of your colleagues studied law thinking life would be like Matlock after graduation. We all realise, a little too late, that Nigerian legal practice is nothing like Matlock.

I was 6 years post-call at the time and while most colleagues, family and friends thought it was “brave” and “a good decision”, the Partners at my old job advised against it and urged me to reconsider my decision for different reasons. One thought it was premature, another suggested I would be unhappy with the type of work I would “regress” into and yet another predicted that a liquidity crunch was coming and even they were apprehensive of what the year ahead had in store for them. At the time, vanity convinced me they just didn’t want me to leave their employment but, three years later, I see that there was some objectivity in their remarks. The almighty liquidity crunch did come (seemingly to stay) and there has been significantly less M&A/Financing/transactional work than I’d anticipated/had grown accustomed to. Was my departure premature? Not really, but I see what my old boss meant.

My Constitutional Law lecturer, the late Professor JD Ojo, would frequently observe in his classes (and also in his capacity as dean of the faculty) that “the practice of law is for the rich”. We were in our late teens and early twenties at the time and reactions to the statement were varied. Prof Ojo studied for his masters and doctorate degrees at the University of London but wasn’t himself a “wealthy” man by most standards, at least not before the Abdul-Salam/Obasanjo transformation of the wages of academics. Thus, people wondered whether or not he saw the irony in his remark. Others were angry at what they perceived a condemnation to a life in penury, given their humble backgrounds. When it was made mandatory for law students to dress in monochrome with proper footwear and we all protested (at different things, including the cost of new wardrobes), Prof Ojo reminded us “without any apologies” that law is for the rich. I have come to agree with him, in a sense. I will return to this point later.

Given that I haven’t been flying solo for that long yet, is there any advice that I can give to someone considering leaving the nest? Let me try. I won’t get into marketing, networking or business development as I’m assuming every new business owner has some strategy or the other for this at the inception of their business.

1.       When is a good time to quit the old job and fly solo?

People leave big law firms for different reasons. Some are terminated and physically pushed out of the nest. Some grow tired of the monotony. Some find themselves on the cusp of an opportunity and need to be masters of their own time to effectively pursue it. Others are fed up with verbal abuse from their bosses.

It’s important to leave for the right reasons and at the right time. I think the best time to leave is when you can afford to leave: young enough to start a business and, in the event that it fails, still be young enough to be employable; if you have a family, they need to be able to remain comfortable while you find your feet; or you leave when you’re already earning so much money on the side that you’re no longer dependent on your salary (kind of like Lagos and Rivers States re federal allocations).

2.       Perseverance

Unless you’re from a wealthy family, with a wealth of ready connections to people in positions that can dispense quality work, it’s likely your stabilisation period will be fairly tough. This is probably where I agree with my old dean. It is much easier to practice law properly with a safety net(work) of family pedigree and all the perquisites that come with it. Otherwise, you need to keep plugging away at it. Persevere Until Success Happens (*kind of stolen jingo*).

3.       “Dirty Work”

There is a great deal of sleight-of-hand and smoke and mirrors out there. You keep seeing this chap who was called two years after you, yet he’s driving Range Rovers and Jaguars. If he’s not a trust-fund baby, chances are he’s a property wheeler-dealer (big ticket transactions rarely trickle down that low). Now, the purist in me hates showing people round empty houses – that’s an estate agent’s work. But there’s an opportunity cost to being a purist. And, positioning yourself to contend with bigger law firms costs money. Sometimes, therefore, you do what you have to do. Again of course, who you are, who you know and who you’ve come to know are also all very important here.

4.       Be an Authority – Be the “Go-To”

If you’re keen to practice law properly, it’s probably best to be well-renowned in your field of practice before you go solo. Yes, your Partners and the name of their firm attract the work while you’re with them but to survive after you leave them, enough of the big-paying clients had better realise that you’re the brains of the operation. That way, they may come looking for you when you leave the nest.

5.       Keep Improving Yourself/the Business

At some point, if the business doesn’t fail, work will come and you need to have the capacity to deliver at “big law” level if you want to retain the client. Capacity, both in the context of intellectual manpower and of technological hardware. You must personally be ready for that time, as must your business.

6.       Consider Staying in the Nest

The image that hardened my resolve to give self-employment a go was a 10yr+ Senior Associate almost on his knees (figuratively, at least) begging for a bonus from the Partners. And then there was the time a senior lawyer was let go without warning. But for every senior associate that carries on in an antithetical way to your ideal, for every seemingly decent lawyer let go, there are another 3 or 4 who rise through the ranks and eventually make Partner. At the end of the day, there’s no rule that says everyone must own their own law firm. Worth considering.

NB. If any other lawyer flying solo wants to add to this list, please send to rfawole@gmail.com. Contributions will receive proper attribution.

MY DISAGREEMENT WITH THE “Mob Justice” BILL

In the wake of the gruesome extrajudicial murder of the four young men who have since come to be known as the “Aluu4”, author Okechukwu Ofili drafted a bill against mob justice and began an online campaign to support the passage of the bill into law. As the act of a concerned citizen not merely contented with wringing his hands and lamenting the abyss that Nigeria is inching towards, it is an act that must be commended. However, if we put the good intentions of Mr Ofili and his supporters aside and examine the substance of the petition and the bill itself, we will find that it actually isn’t as punchy as its enthusiasts believe.

The petition begins with the misconception that mob justice is not a crime in Nigeria. Several tweets were sent out along the lines of “[Counterfeiting stamps] is an offence in Nigeria but mob justice isn’t. Sign the petition and say ‘Never Again’ to mob justice!” I say ‘misconception’ because there is absolutely nothing about “mob justice” (or ochlocracy, as Teju Cole explains) that is legal, even in the international backwater that we frequently agree is Nigeria. After all, mob justice is the colloquial term given to the actions of a group of people taking laws into their own hands and assuming the positions of judge, jury and executioner over persons suspected of committing a crime.

What are the acts that constitute “mob justice”? Typically, the Nigerian “mob” sets on the suspects, strips them naked, beats them senseless and very often murders them by setting them on fire. To say that mob justice is not a crime is to suggest that each of these heinous acts is perfectly legal. Clearly, this position is absolutely untenable.

Before we even venture into the Criminal Code, let us examine the supreme legal document in the land – the 1999 Constitution. Chapter IV of the constitution states the fundamental rights of each and every Nigerian citizen.

Section 33(1) tells us that “[E]very person has a right to life and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.” Section 34(1)(a) says “Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman and degrading treatment.” Section 36 guarantees the right to “a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”

It is clear that nothing that happened in Aluu is “not a crime in Nigeria”, going by the Constitution.

But what about the Criminal Code? Section 315 provides that “[A]ny person who unlawfully kills another is guilty of an offence which is called murder or manslaughter, according to the circumstances of the case.” Sections 351-356 clearly state what constitutes assault. Chapter 54 tells us that it is a criminal offence to conspire with other persons to commit a crime. Grievous harm (i.e. “ bodily hurt which seriously or permanently injures health, or which is likely so to injure health, or which extends to permanent disfigurement or to any permanent or serious injury to any external or internal organ, member, or sense)is also an offence under the criminal code. On the parties to an offence, Section 7 of the Criminal Code is very clear and I reproduce the pertinent part below:

“When an offence is committed, each of the following persons is deemed to have taken part in committing the offence and to be guilty of the offence, and may be charged with actually committing it, that is to say-

(a) every person who actually does the act or makes the omission which constitutes the offence;

(b) every person who does or omits to do any act for the purpose of enabling or aiding another person to commit the offence;

(c) every person who aids another person in committing the offence;

(d) any person who counsels or procures any other person to commit the offence.”

It is therefore also clear that nothing that happened in Aluu is “not a crime in Nigeria”, going by the Criminal Code. Not even standing by or cheering on the murderers.

For me, therefore, the entire campaign was based on an entirely false premise. I was unable to bring myself to retweet or advocate for support for it. The truth is that the so-called “Mob Justice Bill” does not and will not change the law. Mob justice is already illegal. If it wasn’t, there would be no basis for charging the persons who have now been arraigned for the crime that was committed in Aluu.

Is there a bigger implication for social media advocacy? Yes. We cannot sit on our technological high horses and accuse the government of profligacy or inefficiency and engage in conduct that encourages the very same things. If we intend to be taken seriously at the very highest levels, we need to ensure that our actions are not only sentimentally sound but that they are also valid under the rule of law.

There is even a more potentially dangerous side of which we must all be aware. In law school, we are taught that criminal law is the easiest aspect of law for newly qualified lawyers to get into. This is because offences are broken down into separate components and once a lawyer can show that even one component of, say, a five component offence is absent, his client walks. Laws that would create crimes must be mindful of this “flip side”.

Again, we must separate the intentions of the “Mob Justice Bill” advocates from the obviously unintended outcome of their actions. We cannot deny that the Bill was borne out of the desire to make a change and the intention of the promoters of the Bill should be acknowledged.

Finally, does this piece mean that we should all sit down in our comfort zones and do nothing about unlawful killings and extrajudicial justice? By no means. Like most things that are fundamentally wrong with Nigeria, strengthening [democratic and judicial] institutions is the key to progress. The faith of the common man in the justice system must be restored. To achieve this, there must be police and judicial reform. Extensive work has already been done on a framework for the reform of the Nigerian police and can be found here. Turnaround time must be reduced in the judiciary and advocacy that would achieve an end to mob justice would be better channelled, in my opinion, along these lines.

RF (@TexTheLaw)

This Logic Matter

They say the mark of having had a fulfilling time in the university is that not only do you pass through the university but it also passes through you. I’ve never quite been sure if that expression is anything besides a fluffy Nigerianism but, if the university passing through you means that some of the things you learnt remoulded you and will stay with you forever, then logic (aka Philosophy 102 – Arguments and Critical Thinking) really passed through me. Mr. Owolabi, God bless him and his crutch, would frequently say “Let’s do what they’re incapable of doing in Aso Rock; let’s think!”

That elective has probably gotten me into the most trouble with my wife since we met. For some inexplicable reason, I would rather logic prevailed over intuition even though I know full well that life is more than inductive and deductive reasoning. When trying to interpret other people’s actions, more often than not, I use my logic filter. Mrs Tex (whether or not it’s because she’s a woman and therefore more likely to be more intuitive anyway) doesn’t have this ‘handicap’ and over the years my logic has prevailed over her intuition only 1 out of 5 times on the average. Which makes my devotion to it increasingly infuriating for her.

So maybe not everything in life can be subjected to the rigour of testing the validity of the thinking behind them. However, the greatest thinkers of any generation, and their critics and disciples, have no other means of establishing or disputing the authority of their ideas. No meaningful discussion can be had otherwise.  If you want your conclusions to be accepted, you need to give valid, logical, reasons why. It is therefore somewhat sad, for example, to read rejoinders to articles and opinions that, rather than discussing the original issues raised are nothing more than attacks on the person of the original writer. Or, on the comment threads of some online articles, to find an opinion roundly criticised only on the basis that it was expressed by someone from a certain tribe.

Clearly, we are products of our environment and sentiments and bias will have some bearing on the attitudes we adopt and ideas we express. And that’s probably acceptable for private discussions. When ideas are being propounded for public consumption though, I believe logic must relegate sentiments, intuition and bias. I may be wrong but I am convinced that until we elevate the way we discuss issues (and actually discuss issues), especially those of us outside the “cabal” crying for change, we may find progress elusive.

Below are a few examples of prevalent thinking (from the educated segment of our society) – they should give us pause:

  • El-Rufai is only criticising the government because his own party lost the elections [has he raised valid issues?]
  • Kathleen doesn’t support the doctors’ strike because she wanted to marry a doctor but failed to [has she given valid reasons why they shouldn’t have gone on strike?]
  • We know Ijeoma’s antecedents in XYZ corporation, how can she castigate us? [are you guilty of the allegations she has levelled against you, though?]
  • I couldn’t have orchestrated fraud because I actually taught at Harvard [yes, we all know Harvard is next to the Vatican in preparing people for priesthood and sainthood]
  • We’re revoking the contract because it was skewed in favour of the concessionaire [I killed my parents but you should have mercy on me because I’m now an orphan]
  • You’re a foreigner; Nigeria’s issues should only be discussed by Nigerians [Boko Haram issues should only be discussed by terrorism experts too, right?]
  • This kind of backward, myopic (etc) thinking can only be found in the [pick your choice] tribe [and everyone is a genius where you come from? Even that your uncle that the entire family mocks?]
  • Do you know who I am? [If Obama, Putin, Cameron and Merkel jointly put forward a stupid idea, it’s STILL a stupid idea!]

On a lighter note, logic served my friends and I very well at Sade Eleja. There was always someone willing to buy us another round of drinks and catfish peppersoup to prevent us from leaving early. “Mo n gbadun yin gan an…”

Of Bullies and The Fickle

In our country, there is a customary acclamation that follows the writings of some people, regardless of the depth (or otherwise) of their summations. Such writers are usually either people who have paid their dues in theie profession (or the public eye) and whose reputation therefore precedes their publications; or they are people who generally produce populist material (populism, of course, isn’t necessarily a bad thing but that’s probably a discussion for another day). I think that in Chief Dele Momodu, we may have a combination of both. The good Chief’s most recent piece on the “bully” that is the Central Bank Governor, in my opinion, fully supports my belief.

The article starts with the propositions that Mallam Sanusi is a poor student of history and that Nigerians are fickle (these may very well be so, but that is not my grouse with his piece). He proceeds to recount Nigeria’s political upheaval from Shehu Shagari to the second incarnation of the Obasanjo presidency, to illustrate how today’s political darling is tomorrow’s scorned lover. Thereafter, the article places Mallam Sanusi firmly in its cross-hairs and fires salvo after salvo at Sanusi’s character, with absolutely no effort made at any analysis of the policies being decried.

According to Chief Momodu, Sanusi is all of the following – lord of a fiefdom, a reckless spender [on outlandish projects], academically brilliant but unbridedly radical, someone who does things in the extreme and lacks the tolerance to persuade others, a loose canon, a sword of Damocles against his foes, vainglorious, rabblerousing, sharp-tongued, attention-seeking, a bully. Of course, in the traditional way that one public figure criticising another usually does, he pays him a (nearly paradoxical) compliment – Sanusi is also princely and charming. Awwww.

We are then treated to an encyclopaedia’s definition of “bullying”, which as most people now know, is a faux pas in academic documents as well as those of the rather serious nature that public commentary is. It is insightful too to read that while Sanusi “[took] on and sacked otherwise brilliant bankers” (emphasis on ‘otherwise’ mine), Chief Momodu also refers to him as “… a Sanitory Inspector in the cesspool of banking mess.” (So, which is it?) Finally, the article ends with Chief Momodu’s opinion on why the N5,000 note palaver has reached its current position, which is the issue that precipitated the article.

I believe that a man who would be president needs to make a more strenuous effort at public/economic commentary. We can surmise from the good Chief’s summation that he disagreed with Sanusi on the N5,000 note. However, because all we see is a list of what he perceives as Sanusi’s character defects, we can only conclude that Momodu disagrees with the N5,000 note because of Sanusi’s character; because Sanusi is an unbridled radical (or attention-seeking, or rabblerousing, or any of the other choice words he used).

There is also the suggestion that that Sanusi did not gauge the mood of Nigeria before embarking on his “N5,000 note misadventure”. For me, this is the most worrying line in the article. Apart from side-stepping the statutory corporate governance structure of the Central Bank (and making this a wholly Sanusi issue), I disagree that a regulator must only use its statutory power in line with the public mood. Think of the stagnation and anti-development this would cause in immigration or taxation or enforcement of health and safety standards, for example. Being a good leader sometimes requires making the unpopular choice.

 

The truth is that, by law, the CBN has a Board of Directors “responsible for the policy and general administration of the affairs and business of the Bank.” The Board comprises the Governor (who doubles as its chairman), four Deputy Governors, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and five directors. The five directors are to be appointed by the President of Nigeria and each of them is required to be “a person of recognized standing in financial or banking affairs”.

In matters of the country’s currency, the CBN Act states that “Currency notes and coins issued by the Bank shall be in such denominations of the naira or fractions thereof as shall be approved by the President on the recommendation of the Board.” This suggests that before the announcement of the dates for the introduction of the new currency was made, the Board must have recommended it to the President and President Jonathan must have approved it. I am therefore surprised at the direction in which populism has steered discussion on this policy.

Am I suggesting that every government policy should be accepted? Of course not. Do I think the introduction of the N5,000 note would have been good for Nigeria? I am not an expert in economics and my personal feelings are irrelevant, although I cannot help but notice the deafening silence and lack of suggested alternatives to the CBN’s clear and present cash handling and cash management issues and costs.

When people who do not know better ask dodgy questions such as “how do you reconcile the cashless/cashlite CBN policy with the N5,000 note?” I say, leave them, for they do not know any better. Educate them, if you will. However, when a figure of Chief Momodu’s stature, history and leanings doesn’t separate the character of the CBN governor from whether or not we have an efficient vibrant central bank today, then more than the plaudits that followed that piece, eyebrows must be raised and questions asked.

What Can I do About An Unreasonable Increase in Rent?

Someone asked me this question yesterday and, as with most questions on the application of law in Nigeria, the legally accurate answer frequently varies from the practical answer. In this instance, I had no clue what the legal answer was and promised to respond to the asker today (after looking it up in the office).

Under the Lagos State Tenancy Law of 2011, it turns out you can make a complaint to the Rent Tribunal about an unreasonable increase in rent (“…apply to the Court for an Order declaring that the increase in rent payable under a tenancy agreement is unreasonable.”).

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What will the court look at in determining whether or not the increase is unreasonable? The general level of rents in the locality or a similar locality for comparative analysis, mostly. The court may also take evidence of witnesses and consider any special circumstances relating to the rented property.

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If the court agrees that the increase in rent is unreasonable, it may order the increase in rent to be changed to a specific amount. Finally, to the benefit of the tenant, it is unlawful for the landlord to eject a tenant from the premises while the proceedings to determine the reasonableness of the rent increase are pending.

The practical answer? Litigation should only be resorted to where negotiations have failed.

Mirrors, Signal, Manoeuvre – The Traffic Dilemma

One of the extras I acquired in my time as an expatriate post-grad was a UK driver’s licence. I had to get a learner’s permit and go (back) to driving school. For the first two lessons, I was extremely indignant. I’d been a “licensed” driver for roughly 10 years and considered myself extremely competent. I didn’t understand why the Brits treated passing one’s driving test like we celebrate JAMB or SSCE scores. I quickly realised however that, even with my slightly-above-average knowledge of the Highway Code (my dad insisted at the time), I had picked up bad habits that I needed to un-learn, otherwise I was sure to fail the test (which only has a 45% pass rate anyway – with men testing better than women, in case anyone’s interested). Luckily, I passed on the very first attempt.

 

Bringing those “good” driving habits back made motoring in Lagos very frustrating initially but Lagos is really one of those if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them places. People blaring their horns at the slightest excuse (many commercial drivers for absolutely no reason whatsoever), flagrant disregard for road markings (especially zebra crossings), random/indiscriminate stopping on the road, no idea of lane discipline (you’re exiting left but you stay on the extreme right lane and wait until the last possible second to veer dangerously left), etc. I was therefore reasonably happy when it was announced that a “new” traffic law was about to be enacted in Lagos, particularly as it mentioned enforcing the roundabout rule (giving way to traffic on the left).

 

In spite of its draconian elements (banning any eating or drinking while driving), I have chosen to be optimistic about the new law because it will increase sanity and order on our roads. In Lagos, that can only be a good thing. I realise, of course, that over-zealous LASTMA officials and some policemen will give asinine interpretations to what actions constitute traffic offences but I think, like it happened when seatbelts and those idiotic reflective stickers were required, things will gradually rationalise. So, yes, optimism for now.

 

On the flipside however, a good law should answer more questions than it poses (CAVEAT: the law itself has not been published and all comments made by the public so far are on the sections that the government chose to highlight) and the public response shows that more needs to be done with having consultations before bills are drafted. If a government white paper (or policy document) had been drawn up and properly circulated prior to the bill itself receiving so much prominence, the thinking behind banning any sort of ingestion while driving would be clear. Now, everyone just thinks it’s silly and as a result the public isn’t fully endorsing the law.

 

Many have said the punishments for driving in a prohibited direction (“one way”) are too severe, given the potential prison term of 3 years. My first response to this was simply, don’t do it then. But my mind did a Nollywood-style flashback to the first time I drove to Lagos from Ibadan and got “arrested” by the “council task force” for a “one-way” violation. The road had no signage but, as “heegnoranz hees not heckscuze”, I still had to part with a bribe to be able to continue my journey. To convince us that this isn’t another poverty alleviation programme (for LASTMA) LASG/LASAA must therefore ensure that all roads are properly marked (they mostly are on the Island, though). We too as citizens must force the hand of government. Take and circulate pictures of the entry-points to unmarked “one-way” roads. It would also be a great idea for LASG to make it compulsory for every vehicle to have a copy of the Highway Code (which would make an excellent supplement to Complete Sports for danfo drivers’ downtime).

 

Finally, I’ve been trying to point out for some time that many of the traffic offences this new law covers are not actually new. Sometime in 2009, I saw 2 LASTMA officials shoving a driver out of his vehicle and driving it off. I knew they had the power to impound but, curious to know the extent to which they could exercise this power, I dug out the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority Law of 2004. Unsurprisingly, as it seems to appear for its successor, the law is vague on how LASTMA should “impound” a vehicle. What did surprise me was a variety of offences of which I was unaware, as well as the fact that points can be put on your license (well, theoretically, anyway). I’m reproducing a few of the offences and penalties below. Please remember that this is the old (2004) law.

 

 

VIOLATION

PENALTY

POINT

FINE

N

ADDITIONAL

Driving without a Driver’s Licence

2

2,000

Impound Vehicle

Learning to drive on a major highway

3

2,000

Dislodge Driver

Driving with fake number plates

4

4,000

Impound Vehicle

Driving a vehicle with unauthorised or defective reflective number plate

2

2,000

Impound Vehicle

 

 

 

 

Violation of route by commercial vehicle

2

2,000

 

 

 

 

Disobeying traffic control personnel or traffic signs

1

2,000

Disobeying traffic lights

4

5,000

 

Failure to yield to right of way of pedestrians at a zebra crossing

4

5,000

 

Failure to give way to traffic on the left at a roundabout

2

2,500

 

 

 

 

 

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs

2

2,000

Impound Vehicle

Smoking while driving

1

2,000

 

 

 

 

 

Tailgating an emergency vehicle

4

5,000

 

Failure of slow-moving vehicle to keep to the right lane

2

2,500

 

 

 

 

 

Assault on a Traffic Officer

4

5,000

Prosecute in court

Driving in a direction prohibited by the Road Traffic Law [i.e. “one-way”]

4

25,000

Impound

Bullion vehicle driving in a direction prohibited by the Road Traffic Law

4

50,000

Impound

Illegal U-Turns

2

2,000

Driver Training

Making or receiving phone calls when driving

2

2,500

 

Failure to display reflective warning triangle sign [i.e. “C-Caution”] at point of breakdown

4

10,000