Sanity and civility may soon be re-instated into the lives of Lagosians and its drivers as the Lagos State Government on Friday inaugurated five Mobile Court (Special Offences Court) buses for road traffic offenders, with a pledge to end impunity on the roads.
The mobile courts in the state which will be manned by highly-qualified Magistrates of the State Judiciary, with lawyers from the Office of Public Defenders made available to accused, will move around the metropolis to summarily try cases of traffic and environmental offenders and mete out immediate punishments to them where applicable.
The inauguration was held at the premises of the High Court in Ikeja, the capital of the state.
The Chief Judge of the State, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade and the State’s Attorney General, Kazeem Adeniji, restated their commitments to ridding Lagos roads of recklessness and impunity at the inauguration, disclosing that the judiciary remains committed and would stop at nothing to back the initiative of the State Government.
With the mobile courts which would move around in buses, Atilade said the end had come to “the era of recklessness and impunity on our public roads and highways.”
“Those who choose to make life difficult for other people, especially on our roads, should have a re-think, as they would henceforth be held accountable for their deeds.
“Flagrant disregard or violation of traffic rules with impunity is unacceptable and as such, must be discouraged and condemned by all.”
The Chief Judge said the initiative was targeted at curbing the excesses of “those to whom the laws of the land are of no value,” stating that the situation is unacceptable, and would no longer be business as usual for them, as the mobile courts signified the state’s determination “to fully enforce the extant traffic laws in the state and take stiffer measures against road traffic offenders.”
“You see them break traffic rules at will, and cause needless traffic snag on our roads. They also, most often, drove against traffic and beat the traffic lights, destroy traffic furniture and infrastructures, drive across the road median and through their lawlessness and irresponsible actions, daily inflict pains, grieve and sorrow on fellow citizens.”
“Businesses are impeded, as several productive hours are unnecessarily lost in traffic, mostly due to acts of indiscipline by few recalcitrant and obstinate drivers and road users, who are laws unto themselves. As, we speak, many have been sent to early graves, while several others are either maimed or lying critically ill in the hospital.”
Justice Atilade pointed out that flagrant disregard and violation of traffic rules with impunity was unacceptable. She therefore, urged the people of the state to discourage and condemn the act.
The Chief Judge regretted that until now, unruly road users who daily cut the lives of innocent citizens short and caused traffic snarl leading to wastage of productive hours on the roads, had gone unpunished. She also warned law enforcement agents not to allow themselves to be caught abetting or condoning reckless drivers.
Adeniji Kazeem, commissioner of justice and attorney-general, said the mobile court was a way state Governor Akinwunmi Ambode wishes that citizens access justice and civil order maintained in society.
He said that the Mobile Courts would facilitate prompt and immediate trial of road traffic and environmental offenders.
Offenses to be tried by the Court include; driving against traffic, refusing to obey traffic signs like Zebra Crossings and Traffic Lights indications, crossing the highways where Pedestrian Bridges are provided, public and private vehicle drivers, including military personnel trespassing the BRT lanes and parking at undesignated places, commercial buses on motion with their doors open thereby endangering lives of both their passengers and other road users, noise pollution and street trading among others.
He expressed hope that the reduction in the commission of these traffic offences, would determine how much Lagos had progressed as a civilized society.
“The history of mankind has shown that obedience to societal laws has never been entirely voluntary. Therefore, prompt and fair adjudication as well as the certainty of enforcement and penalties constitute the necessary inducement for respect and obedience of laws”, Kazeem stated.
The State Attorney General also said that the Courts would be presided over by Magistrates and that there would be prosecutors from the Ministry of Justice and defence lawyers from the Office of the Public Defender (OPD), who would be readily available to defendants who so desire.