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Judgment: LASTMA not revenue generating agency – rights activist

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Human rights activist and lawyer, Mr Malachy Ugwummadu, has hailed a court judgment stopping towing of vehicles and imposition of fines by Lagos State Traffic Management Authority without a valid court order.

Ugwummadu, a former National President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, told the newsmen in Lagos on Sunday that LASTMA was not a revenue generating agency.

He remarked that the idea of creating LASTMA was good, but the attitude of some of its officers in the discharge of their duties was bad.

“The Traffic Law of Lagos State, 2012 seeks to be apprehending violators of traffic laws and taking them to court, and upon conviction, they shall either forfeit or pay fine as the case may be.

“However, what they do these days is to lurk at obscure corners of streets of Lagos, waiting for people to violate the law even when there are no adequate signs, and pounce on the vehicle with a view to generating funds.

“LASTMA is not a revenue generating agency of Lagos State.

It is supposed to regulate traffic activities and help to reduce traffic congestion,” Ugwummadu said.

The lawyer said that hiding of LASTMA officers at odd places with a view of harassing motorists was bad.

He added that LASTMA’s apprehension of alleged traffic offenders, towing of their cars and extortion of money from them were abusive.

“In most cases, they force their ways into your car in a way that suggests they are not just ruffians but are determined to extort, and in their desperation to extort money, they leave out what is supposed to be done which is respecting even alleged violators.

“Section 36 (1) of the 1999 constitution states that in the determination of the rights and privileges of every Nigerian, such a person shall be given fair hearing by a court of law or a tribunal, in this case, a mobile tribunal, in a way that will guarantee independence and impartiality.

“It is a breach of fundamental human rights.

“In other words, LASTMA is the accuser, the arresting officer, the prosecutor and also the judge, because they conclude to punish motorists without giving them any opportunity to say what has happened,” he said.

Ugwummadu praised the judge for the judgment and commended the applicant for his courage.

The lawyer urged the media to do more in sensitising the public appropriately to enable them to be alive to their fundamental rights.

“The media should not relent in sensitising the public to know their rights to fair hearing, freedom of movement, right against torture and inhuman treatment.

“Even the Administration of  Criminal Justice Act prohibits expressly harassment of suspected offenders and makes copious provisions with a view to restoring dignity,” he said.

Ugwummadu urged Lagos  State to take advantage of the judgment to embark on training of its officers in order to prevent more damages.

Newsmen report that an Ikeja High Court, on Sept. 22, awarded N750,000 damages against Lagos State Government for violating a fundamental right of a lawyer, Mr Lawal Aliyu, who  LASTMA officers towed his vehicle and imposed fines on, without a valid court order.

LASTMA, Lagos State Government and the state’s attorney-general were respondents in the suit.

Justice Olalekan Oresanya held that it was unconstitutional for LASTMA to impose fines and tow vehicles of suspected traffic offenders without a valid court order.

Aliyu had challenged the imposition of N20,000 fine on him by LASTMA for an alleged traffic offence, and the imposition of N10,000 towage fine, which he was forced to pay by the traffic management agency.

Oresanya held that public authorities and bodies could not act in a manner inconsistent and incompatible with the fundamental rights of citizens as guaranteed by Nigeria’s Constitution.

“Even in the jurisdiction, where parliamentary laws/statutes are supreme, such as the United Kingdom, public bodies must not act in a manner that is incompatible with the convention and rights of citizens as embodied in the European Convention on Human Rights which has now been incorporated into the Human Rights Act of 1998.

 

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Health and Safety

INCESSANT TRUCK ACCIDENTS: LASG Warns Truck Drivers, Owners Against Recklessness

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INCESSANT TRUCK ACCIDENTS: LASG Warns Truck Drivers, Owners Against Recklessness

… Vows To prosecute anyone found culpable***

The Lagos State Government has again condemned in strong terms, the incessant truck accidents happening within the State and read the riot act, warning owners and drivers of articulated vehicles against recklessness, and saying any driver or owner found to be complicit in any truck accident will be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the State Transport Sector Reform Law (TSRL), 2018.

A statement released by the Ministry of Transportation noted that the warning becomes necessary, following recent truck accidents at Ojuelegba and Ikotun area which claimed lives of innocent citizens and leaving scores of people injured, also at Abule-Egba road, and Odoyalaro (Maryland) Bridge which fortunately were without casualties.

According to the Statement, investigation reveals that the accidents happen most times, due to negligence and recklessness on the part of the drivers, reiterating that the State Government has resolved not to tolerate unabated truck accidents caused by large containers falling off trucks that injure or kill citizens, who are going about their daily activities.

Having carried out a critical forensic investigation on the causes of these accidents, the State Government has resolved to evoke the full wrath of the laws stipulated in its Transport Sector Reform Law (TSRL), 2018, on liability of owners for safety.

The law clearly stated that a person who drives a commercial vehicle whose condition does not conform with the provisions of the law commits an offense and is liable on conviction to the penalty stated in Section 18 (2) and in situations where the driver of the vehicle is not the owner, the owner will also be liable in line with Section 18 (3).

The Statement further read that enforcement strategies to checkmate the operations and activities of articulated vehicles plying the State Roads is sacrosanct and will be enforced.

The State Government having registered its displeasure and position on the current situation sought the full cooperation of all relevant Stakeholders in the implementation of the exercise/enforcement in a bid to erase needless deaths, enhance movement without fear on our roads and safety of lives and property.

The Statement further commiserates with families who lost their loved ones in the recent accidents assuring them that justice will be served.

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Health and Safety

Nigeria records 244 confirmed cases of Lassa fever, 37 deaths in 16 states and FCT

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Nigeria records 244 confirmed cases of Lassa fever, 37 deaths in 16 states and FCT

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) registered 244 confirmed cases of Lassa Fever in 16 states and the FCT as of Jan. 22.

Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, indicated this on Monday in Abuja, adding that the centre also recorded 37 deaths, a case fatality rate of 15.1 per cent.

The Lassa fever infections were recorded in Ondo State (90), Edo (89), Bauchi (13), Taraba (10), Benue (9), Ebonyi (9), Nasarawa (7) and Plateau (5).

Others are Kogi (4), Anambra (2), Delta (1), Oyo (1), Adamawa (1), Enugu (1), Imo (1), and the FCT (1).

He said among five health workers confirmed infected in the line of duty, one of them died.

Dr Adetifa said the centre activated a national multi-sectorial Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) on Jan. 20 to coordinate and strengthen ongoing response activities.

The centre is powered by officials of the NCDC and those of relevant ministries, departments, and agencies, other stakeholders and major partners.

“The outcome of the risk assessment placed Nigeria at a very high risk as increased transmission has been recorded compared to previous years, just as the number of states infected has risen.

“Healthcare workers have also been shown to be at increased risk of infection and death,’’ he said.

Adetifa also told NAN that the EOC would coordinate the national response, especially across affected states to interrupt disease transmission, reduce impact by reducing suffering and death.

He appealed to states of the federation to support the NCDC as lead agency in the development and implementation of evidence-driven outbreak response plans for their territories.

He said that prior to the activation of EOC, the NCDC had deployed national rapid response teams to hotspot states to support contact tracing, case management, risk communication and community engagement, among others.

It also developed a national Incident Action Plan to ensure coordinated response at all levels and planned the deployment of surge staff for Lassa fever case management to high-burden states.

He explained that healthcare workers at most risk were those who clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces, materials, and supplies without adequate protective gear.

Laboratory workers who handle blood samples of suspected Lassa fever patients without appropriate precautions are also at high risk, he added.

“Most at risk for Lassa fever are persons who prepare and or handle bodies of deceased Lassa fever cases without appropriate precautions,’’ he stressed.

Adetifa enjoined healthcare workers to always wear gloves and other appropriate personal protective equipment while handling patients or providing care to patients and their relatives.

“Healthcare providers should report all suspected cases of Lassa fever to their local government Disease Surveillance and Notification Officer for immediate access to healthcare.

“This is essential because early identification and treatment of cases appear to be more effective and can save lives,’’ he said.

Adetifa enjoined Nigerians to keep their environment clean always; block all holes in residences to prevent access by rats and other rodents, cover dustbins and dispose of refuse properly.

“Communities should set up dump sites very far from their homes so as not to attract rats and other rodents just as foodstuffs should be kept in containers with tight-fitting lids.

“Avoid drying foodstuffs on roadsides where they will be at risk of contamination. Avoid bush burning which can lead to the displacement of rats from bushes to human dwellings.

“Practice good personal and hand hygiene by frequently washing hands with soap under running water or use of hand sanitisers when appropriate.

“Visit the nearest health facility if you notice any of the signs and symptoms associated with Lassa fever and avoid self-medication,’’ he advised.

Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus. The natural reservoir for the virus is the rat and other rodents.

The virus spreads through direct contact with the urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats and contact with objects, household items and surfaces contaminated with the urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats.

Consumption of food or water contaminated with the urine, faeces, saliva, or blood of infected rats; person-to-person contact with blood, urine, faeces and other body fluids of an infected person could also lead to infection.

Lassa fever initially presents like other commonplace illnesses accompanied by a fever such as malaria.

Other symptoms include headache, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pains, chest pain, sore throat, and in severe cases, bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

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EFCC secures 166 convictions, recovers N1.4bn in Kano; Student docked for alleged threat to life, stabbing another with bottle

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EFCC secures 166 convictions, recovers N1.4bn in Kano

 The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Kano Zonal Command, said it secured 166 convictions and recovered N1.4 billion in 2022.

The Zonal Commander of EFCC, Mr. Farouk Dogondaji, made the disclosure during a courtesy visit by Head of News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) office in Kano State, Aminu Garko, on Thursday in Kano.

“In 2022 the commission investigated, prosecuted, secured 166 convictions and recovered N1.4 billion in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa. We still have pending cases in court.

“The Government of President Muhammadu Buhari has given all Nigerians the opportunity to report cases of economic and financial crime.

“EFCC Chairman, Mr. Abdulrashid Bawa, brought a lot of changes and policies among which is the development of EFCC strategic plan to improve public participation in the fight against corruption.

“Fighting corruption is for all of us Nigerians. We have to put our hands together to push our country forward,” Dogondaji said.

He noted that the issue of corruption in Nigeria was of great concern to all patriotic citizens, and as such various stakeholders must work together to tame it, especially as the country goes into election.

“Citizens have to know what corruption has done to Nigeria so that when they go to cast their votes, they vote for credible Nigerians. Even as citizens, we have a duty to Nigeria,” he said.

He commended NAN for its zeal to partner with the commission to win the war against corruption.

Earlier, the head of the Kano state NAN office said corruption has been the major problem militating against the smooth implementation of government policies and programmes that would impact the well-being of the populace.

“Fighting corruption is like fighting a war among communities, we cannot move forward without fighting corruption,” he said.

Garko called for synergy between NAN and the EFCC in the ongoing fight against corruption in the country. 

In another development, a 26-year-old student, Victor Adegbulugbe, was on Friday docked in an Ogudu Magistrate’s Court in Lagos, for allegedly stabbing another with a broken bottle on the head and back.

The police charged Adegbulugbe, who resides at Kazeem Street, Ojota, Lagos, with count bordering on assault, threat to life, grievous confrontation and breach of peace.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The Prosecutor, Insp Donjor Perezi, had told the court that the defendant committed the offence on Jan. 19, 2023, at about 9 a.m. at Muwazani hotel, located on No 22 Ogudu road, Ojota, Lagos State.

Perezi told the court that the defendant stabbed one Akeem Adebare, during an altercation and threatened the lives of Sharon Eunkoroh and Ibrahim Adebare that he would kill them with a gun.

He said that the offences contravened the provisions of Section 175, 56 (1)(a), 168 and 173 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.

According to section 173, anyone found guilty of the offence will be liable to three years imprisonment

The Magistrate, Mrs M.O. Tanimola, granted the defendant bail in the sum of N200,000, with two sureties in like sum.

She said that the sureties must be gainfully employed and must show evidence of tax payments to Lagos Government.

Tanimola adjourned the case until Feb. 15 for mention.

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