A Special Offence Court in Lagos State has discharged and acquitted a motorist who was arraigned by the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), for allegedly driving against traffic.
His Honour, Magistrate L.K.J Layeni ruled that “liability can only be sanctioned on the part of citizens where obligations and responsibilities are fulfilled by the government and its agencies..” His Lordship noted that as it relates to traffic, “the officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Taskforce and any other agents of the state saddled with responsibility to enforce traffic laws also have a duty to direct motorists on the available route or alternative route and provide detailed signage to ease traffic.
LASTMA had on August 20, 2021 arrested and charged the Defendant, one Emem Samson Sunday on a one count charge of driving in a direction prohibited by law, known and referred as (One way) contrary and punishable under Schedule 1 Part 3 Item 27 of Transport Sector Law of Lagos State, 2018.
During trial, the Prosecution witness claimed that while driving along Ajao Estate/Airport Road towards Oshodi Express, the Defendant who was supposed to exit before a Junction known as Ewenla Junction exceeded the Junction there by committing the offence he was charged with. On the contrary, the Defendant claimed that there was no sign to show that proceeding further to the said Junction was a traffic violation.
Delivering his judgment, the Court held that the traffic personnel/officers who were at the Ewenla Junction where no signage was mounted at the time of the arrest, ought to have refused the motorists from plying further the route rather than laying traps and getting them arrested.
The Judgment reads in part
“More so that traffic personnel/officers are at the Ewenla Junction where no signage was mounted at the time of arrest, they ought to have refused the motorists from plying further the route rather than laying traps and getting them arrested. It is my calm and candid view from the analysis of this case that failure to so hold against the prosecution would amount to using the instrumentality of the state to oppress, suppress and inflict pains on motorists and in fact citizens at large, hence, the action of the Defendant or his excuse is justified in the circumstances, I so hold. The Defendant will be liable where it is established that the corrective duty of the government has been met and fulfilled by erecting proper signage as required on this route particularly when motorists are allowed to drive in the both direction of the road. There must be an indication or signage as expected by law to direct motorists that they are not allowed to drive beyond the junction which was later seen to have been done after the commencement of this charge.