Members of the Lagos State House of Assembly, have cautioned the Nigeria Police and other security agencies on the implementation of ‘Operation Velvet’ in the state, calling on Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to appeal to the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Edgal Imohimi to allow vehicle owners to regularise their documents before the implementation of the policy.
While raising the issue under Matter of Urgent Public Importance, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, commended the Nigerian Police and other security agencies for the decision to curtail traffic recklessness on the roads, urging the House to call on the Ministry of Information to inform the people to regularise their documents.
Agunbiade added “The declaration of the Nigerian Police and other sister agencies to commence Operation Velvet, as described by the police, is to bring sanity back into vehicular activities in the state and to ensure strict compliance to traffic laws by vehicle owners is commendable. That all other vehicles exempted from plying BRT roads would be arrested if they do so is also commendable,”
Agunbiade, however, condemned the directive that documents of vehicles would be checked and the operators of the vehicle would be tried by a mobile court and made to comply.
While lamenting on the implementation procedure, he explained that it takes time to deal with one vehicle and one driver, saying that the process would cause hold ups and traffic congestion which indirectly makes commuters to be stranded.
The Majority Leader stressed “It happened this morning as passengers were stranded. It would have been better if the police declared a time for people to get necessary documents or else it would affect the people. We commend them for bringing sanity into the system, but they should give a moratorium to prevent compounding the traffic situation in Lagos State. The Governor should call the state Commissioner of Police to order on the operation,”
In his contribution, Hon. Rotimi Olowo (Shomolu 1) said that he thought there was a war, when he got out in the morning seeing stranded commuters on the roads.
Olowo said the situation could lead to anarchy because as one problem is being solved another one is being created.
“We have issues at hand so we must not go into a policy that could delay people from going to work because it could lead to loss of man hour.
“We have VIS, FRSC and Police who have their functions. The House should call on the Governor and the state Commissioner of Police to give moratorium and that necessary publicity should be done before the operation is fully carried out,” he said.
Also, Hon. Bisi Yusuff (Alimosho 1) said traffic congestion in the state was caused by the government themselves.
Yusuf added “When the Traffic Law was passed, facing oncoming vehicles was unlawful, but when the present government got to power, LASTMA was made powerless.
He said: “I know that passing one way is bad, but our main roads and inner roads are bad. We must arrest the situation of our roads and call Public Works to go back to work. We should allow LASTMA officials to do their jobs and if anyone misbehaves, he or she should be dealt with.”
In his comment, Hon. Olusegun Olulade (Epe 2), said the cosmopolitan nature of Lagos State should be considered before any decision is made, adding that the major issue on the operation is for police and security agencies to check documents.
The lawmaker said as festive period is near, man hours would be lost.
He advised that there should be moratorium period of six months before offenders are punished.
While commenting on the issue, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti Osa 2 ) said it could affect traffic due to the fact that ember months are near.
Yishawu added “What we read in the news is combative. We should not use fire brigade approach and we are creating panic in people with the operation. What we want in Lagos is sustained traffic management system, where the people in-charge can do their work and arrest offenders. They should drop the policy of impounding vehicles and face traffic management in the state,”
However, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Mudashiru Obasa said that it was not out of place for the police to collaborate with others to be more effective.
On “Operation Velvet,” he said that the law has to be respected, while appealing to the state police command to jettison the issue of vehicle particulars now.
Obasa stressed “People should be given time to regularise their documents. So many things are included in the operation.The law has been in place for many years, why the sudden action. “We want to appeal to the police to give people time to get necessary documents before they talk of arresting people. We also want to say that such an opportunity should not be used for extortion and harassment. The Commissioner of Police should take steps to guide against all these,”
He urged Ambode to direct PWC to start doing palliative measures on the roads in the state despite the fact that there are pressures on the roads.
He added “We should not allow potholes to dominate our roads. The contractors handling new roads should speed up their works.
“Where roads that are repaired within six months start having potholes is not good enough. It doesn’t make sense for the roads to go bad within months after repairs.
The Speaker advised “People should be given opportunity to obtain necessary documents. We should computerise the system and know those whose papers have expired without going to the roads,”