Some road safety officials chased down a deep blue coloured Volkswagen Golf car to the Coca-Cola junction, along the Jabi – Airport road.
A scuffle ensued to get his car keys, when another motorist stopped to find out why three uniformed men of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) would be right on the highway in such an untoward position while other civilians, especially commercial motorcyclists looked on in amusement.
“Why are doing this on the highway,” the motorist asked.
“He is resisting arrest, sir,” they chorused.
“Oga, I am not resisting arrest, they….,” the car owner, who had now stepped out of the car and pocketed his car key, started to say.
“Shut up! Am I talking to you?, the motorist bellowed.
The driver would not give up. “Oga, I was trying to give a lift to two ladies and I did not even do it and drove off and they chased me here,” he insisted on saying.
“Is that so? Just like that?”, the motorist asked.
“Yes, sir!” he said, “I was even trying to identify myself as a force man and they didn’t listen to me…”
“You are a force man?”
“When we asked him for his ID card he refused to show us,” the FRSC team leader said.
This was getting more complicated for the motorist.
He invited the driver nearer to him, and asked, “Where do you work?
“Nigeria Air Force, sir!”
“Where is your ID card”? Something was just not right. An airman or officer cannot allow himself to be harassed the way he was before showing his card, the motorist thought.
The driver flashed a card. The motorist, a former barrack boy thought the ID he saw was that of the Nigerian Army and not the Air Force.
“Give me the card, let me see.”
The driver refused.
Now he was angry. If this man thinks I can get him out of the logjam, why is he hiding his card? He pulled a bluff.
“If you don’t hand that card over to me, I will engage you with these road safety officials and call military men down here now!”
The bluff worked. The man handed over the card. A real military man would not fall that easily, the motorist thought. Boom! It was actually a Nigerian Army ID.
“But you told me you are Air Force nah,”
“No, sir, I said Nigerian Army,”
“What? You said Nigerian Air Force!”
He denied it flatly.
The motorist turned to the FRSC officials to corroborate. They said they did not hear his first response.
Again, the motorist was confused, paused a while, and something from his days in the barracks popped into his mind.
Calmly he asked the man for his service number. The man got lost. He asked again. The man began staring in different directions. He was a fake army man!
The motorist asked him to give his car key to the road safety officials adding, “You are finished today. You, a bloody civilian intimidating federal government officials with a fake claim. You are done for.”
He directed the FRSC officials to move the car off the road, moved forward, parked under a tree, and stepped out. He walked back to FRSC officials who were now in a fresh dilemma as the driver appeared to begin pleading with them to save him.
He knew his latest offence was far bigger than the earlier, and appeared ready to go with the road safety officials than with the army.
The motorist began working his phone to reach any army officer he could remember, while the driver began shivering at his side. He reached someone and narrated what transpired.
“Please get him to the nearest police station and hand him over,” the man at the other end said.
“No, I won’t. I don’t trust them, they will release this man back to the streets,” the FRSC officials and the men heard him say. The driver became frenetic in his pleas, while the team leader asked the motorist for a discussion away from the group.
“Sir, we did not chase this man here because he was trying to pick passengers. We chased him down because his car has a Nigerian registration number in front and a foreign one behind,” he said.
“What!!!?”, he shouted, while looking at the front registration number and moving towards the car. He took a photo with his phone. He moved to the back and saw a foreign number. He cast a mean look at the driver, took another photo, and walked back towards the driver.
“Please forgive me,” the driver pleaded.
“I will not!” You lied, you have been carrying a fake military ID card, and you are driving a car with two different registration numbers. You are a criminal of the highest order, you are a terrorist. I will make sure you don’t escape!”
“Now, stand still, I will take your photo and escalate. And from now on, answer all my questions truthfully, or else, I will make your life miserable in Abuja!”
The grilling process commenced until the motorist thought he had heard enough. He worked his phone, again, and reached out to the military officer, who asked for a description of the spot of arrest. He gave him.
Meanwhile, all the time, the commercial motorcyclists who were going about their business and passers-by began getting interested in what was happening. The motorist knew a tinderbox was about to go off. If the cyclists, always with daggers and other weapons, angry at the government for recent ill-advised decisions, turned on the road safety officials and the himself, who, it appeared to them looked like a government official because of his calls, all hell could break loose.
And it did!
In another way. But the long and short of it was that everyone took off to their various ways.
The motorist was to later learn that a pick-up van arrived with three soldiers, including a military policeman, but the driver and the road safety officials, and the citizen were long gone.
The citizen reached out to a security personnel who told him about the menace of drivers, mostly commercial vehicle drivers, who use foreign registration numbers to commit heinous crimes, including kidnapping and ‘one chance’.
So, it was with mixed feelings he read a police statement being less than precise to residents of Abuja concerning the menace of cars with foreign number plates.
According to the statement published in a newspaper, the FCT Police Command began moving against vehicles with foreign plate numbers operating in Abuja as taxis.
The FCT Commissioner Of Police, CP Haruna Garba, made the disclosure in a press release issued by the FCT Police Command spokesperson, SP Josephine Adeh in Abuja, Tuesday.
According to the statement, the Police Commissioner said “that there is an ongoing clampdown on Vehicles with Foreign Plate numbers that are being used within the City as Taxis”.
The Commissioner of Police has also warned residents of FCT to stop circulating the voice recording of one Mr. West Robinson, as it was creating panic and apprehension amongst members of the Public.
The statement reiterated that the warning was coming based on the voice recording on social media warning people against boarding vehicles with foreign plate numbers as they are suspected of robbery and kidnapping activities.
The Police Commissioner, therefore, enjoined members of the public to be vigilant and always report suspicious activities using the Police Emergency lines.
Why would the police play down a serious issue, even when security agents had been advised to warn members of the public and their families against the menace?
The citizen also wondered how the FRSC reported an event he witnessed and participated in.
The road safety corps reported that it arrested one of the perpetrators operating vehicles with foreign and Nigerian plate numbers to carry out heinous crime.
The arrest, it said, followed public outcry about the security risks posed by noticeable violation of road traffic regulations by some motorists who use both foreign and Nigerian number plates on the same vehicle.
According to the statement by its spokesman, Bisi Kazeem, the Corps Marshal of the FRSC, Dauda Ali Biu had directed a nationwide clampdown on all unstable, unregistered, and improperly registered vehicles.
Kazeem said that the special operations is presently ongoing as the FRSC patrol teams are on the lookout to ensure the arrest of all involved.
Accordingly, he added, through swift tactical operations, the driver with one of the vehicles, a Volkswagen (Golf 3) with Kano number plate (BBJ746AA) placed at the front, and a foreign one (CV 51UMC) placed at the rear was apprehended within Idu operational area of the Corps in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Kazeem said that the arrest of the suspect followed adequate intelligence gathered by the tactical team, adding that while the search for the vehicle in the viral video is still ongoing, the arrested Volkswagen and the driver had been handed over to Life Camp Divisional Police Command, FCT for further questioning and possible prosecution, after concluding preliminary investigation by the Corps Intelligence Unit.
He said that the public, especially perpetrators of criminal acts are called to note that the tactical teams of the Corps had been strategically placed to ensure that all suspects are arrested and their vehicles impounded at sight for onward prosecution.