Abuse of Law Enforcement

|  By Vincent Agwagom  |

The sacred enforcement of laws in a just, fair and incorruptible manner is key to societal emancipation, decorum and decency.  —Varssynet 

LAWS are made to be obeyed and those who fail to obey them are supposed to be punished according to their dictates. But the sad thing in our society is that those employed to enforce laws compromise their mandates thereby making a mess of them and creating an atmosphere of impunity under which they use their positions to corruptly enrich themselves. Manipulating the law to gain selfish advantage over gullible and ignorant people is sad, unfortunate, and a stab on jurisprudence. The dictum that “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is one highly abused and misunderstood by many law enforcement officers hence, they use it as a weapon of intimidation by laying ambush on people to disobey an “unseen or coded law” so that they will arrest and demand their pound of flesh settlement.

Ekene's Mercedes Benz car (BH 442 SMK) about to be towed away from Presidential Road motor spare parts spot
Ekene’s Mercedes Benz car (BH 442 SMK) about to be towed away from Presidential Road motor spare parts spot

Jurisprudence requires laws to be manifest and explicit to a reasonable level. How can a road be said to be “one way” without the appropriate road sign designating it as such? Yet traffic officers arrest and intimidate people for disobeying “one way” rule. How can a stranger or a visitor to a town or city know which road is “one way” without “one-way” signage clearly mounted on it? When the appropriate embodiments or paraphernalia of law are missing, enforcing such law in a vacuum becomes an abuse of law enforcement.  Nigerians have a right to good governance not abuses as guaranteed by 14(2b) of the 1999 constitution, which  clearly stipulates that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

Easipark Management Service Nig Ltd, a consulting firm in Enugu State under the ministry of transport which enforces the Road Traffic Law (CAP) 137, Law of Enugu State of Nigeria, 2004, has turned into a lawless outfit with abuse of the law as its primary objective. Easipark regulates road traffic offences such as driving against traffic, road obstruction, double parking, parking in front of gate or entrance, parking in taxi rank, parking in motorbike bay, parking in no parking zone etc. These offences attract different fines ranging from five thousand Naira (N5000) to fifty thousand Naira (N50,000). Easipark Management Services prides itself as the best thing to happen to parking. Yet Easipark office located at Zandas Plaza, 111 Chime Avenue (2nd Floor) has turned into a booming corruption market where “stolen” and legally confiscated plate numbers are marketed. This unchallenged market has empowered lawless and scandalous Easipark staff to go all out confiscating people’s plate numbers at the slightest camouflage even when government should be the culprit for lack of facilities that should complement the law and without which such law is anachronistic, brute and barbaric.

Easipark official fixing back vehicle plate number after settlement
Easipark official fixing back vehicle plate number after settlement

It is worrisome that most people park their vehicles recklessly without concern but it is most disheartening and painful that some people park their vehicles well and reasonably in places without tarred roads, without traffic signs and without traffic warnings only to have their vehicle plates removed by irresponsible agents and staff members of Easipark on grounds of wrong parking. It appears that apart from the few areas that have been clearly marked out for no double parking and wheel clamping zones, the other places are left as traps for unsuspecting drivers to enter and be slaughtered at Easipark’s alters of corruption and impunity. In these unmarked places, it is only in the imaginary heads of Easipark’s agents of darkness that the markings exist hence, the rule of the jungle prevails. The crude operations of Easipark can be likened to giving an animal the mandate to bring decency to a society in a manner that can be likened to a pig being asked to regulate environmental decency or a lion to look after goats or even a goat to secure yams. A situation where government officials use their mandate to perpetuate illegalities by floating agents who extort and “steal” money from the people in diverse forms while these government agents operate behind the screen and scene.

Ekene in pains with his car after release now with dysfunctional radiator as a result of towing effects on his car
Ekene in pains with his car after release now with dysfunctional radiator as a result of towing effects on his car

Not long ago, Ekene, a young Computer Engineering final year student of Caritas University parked his vehicle with Lagos State Plate number BH 442 SMK at motor-vehicle spare-parts selling spot along Presidential road to buy an item for his car repairs and within two minutes, Easipark towing van stationed to tow his vehicle. He was assisted in his pleadings by motor-spare parts dealers and sympathizers all to no avail. They were supposed to tow his vehicle to their office or Ministry of transport, but they towed the vehicle in Ekene’s Company to a spot at Independence Layout where they demanded twenty five thousand naira (N25,000). They later took five thousand naira (N5000) from Ekene whose vehicle could not start again due to towing effects on his radiator. In a brief interview with this writer, Ekene expressed his shock and feeling of devastation due to the fact that there was no sign prohibiting parking around the safe side of the road he parked. Ekene’s plight is one too many. Afa-Anyi-Efuna mediators in one of their works stated: “The tragedy about public service in a society where corruption is implicitly or explicitly legalised is that those who are lucky to secure employment normally, through corrupt or nepotic means, see their offices as licensed commercial centres to market corruption in its most crude form”. The crude activities of Easipark in Eungu  suits the above description and in them and their likes, society is being reduced to a suicide squad.

—   Oct. 14, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

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