Extortion – Criminals in reflective vests

Mobolaji Abidoye Written by Spreado · 1 min read >

It is not every time one gets to perfectly plan what they intend their day to pan out like. Sometimes, if not most times, we just “wing it”. The perception or if I may say, the comfort of just being able to live life without a purposely structured guide surrounding us just gives a sense of relief beyond measure.

For most parts of my regular day, it is usually centered around ensuring customers are satisfied. The entire process of the company works towards that motive. For us as an establishment focused mainly on automobiles, we are ready to attend to any requirement anywhere and that means in most cases, except for a few exceptions, I must be ice-cool in my relationship with both members of staff and clients.

However, as there is always that one time when calmness was not the way forward and in no small part, it was thanks to our not-so-wonderful members of the unlicensed and unlawful law enforcement team who call themselves local government revenue collectors. The brazen act of lawlessness exhibited by these “so-called” revenue collectors can make the calmest person lose their cool.

Their perception of authority is centered around the usually foul-smelling, unkempt reflective vest they dorn as well as the usually illegible identity cards they flash at first instance. One wonders how we have degenerated so low that law enforcement has now become a collection of criminals operating under the guise of revenue mobilization.

I personally do not blame them – even though they must be held responsible for their criminal and unlawful acts – but I blame the system that allows riff raffs, thugs, men, or women of negative to zero calibers to become leaders. The resultant effect of this will resonate down the ranks even to the lowest foot soldiers who instead of upholding the values of integrity and selfless service end up embracing thuggery, criminality (in broad daylight to motorists), and harassment of innocent citizens.

I have been unfortunate to fall victim to some of these so-called revenue collectors in my bid to be a law-abiding citizen. Such instances and experiences make one wonder if the hope of the future of our dear country lies in doing the right thing always or just existing and trying to survive.

I do not intend to personalize the experience but, I am certain that if a survey is conducted to ascertain the experience of motorists in Lagos, Nigeria, there will be a truckload of tales to tell considering these miscreants.

Unlawful acts of halting motorists, setting of booby one-way traffic traps so people may fall and become victims to even becoming defacto policemen who intend to scrutinize vehicle papers in some rare instances.

One of my many painful encounters with these criminal elements (that’s what I choose to address them as) happened at the Ikoyi passport office of the Nigerian immigrations service where I purposely made a stop right in front of one of these miscreants to enquire directions. This so-called revenue officer not only tricked me into allowing him to get into my car but also succeeded in using my blind-sightedness for trusting him to swindle me of 10,000naira.

The tale did not end there. Check it out later for how it ends.

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