Vibrant, erratic and unapologetic is Lagos. Popular for so many things including the unnerving traffic and security agencies who man major highways. Their duty is to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and keep Lagos safe. From the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Vehicle Inspector Office, Federal Road Safety Corporation and the Nigerian Police; they are responsible for the security of Nigeria’s heartbeat.
If you are on a visit to Lagos, you are bound to encounter a traffic officer. It is unavoidable. To ensure you stay on the right side of the law, here are 6 ways to keep your record clean in Lagos.
Have your complete vehicle documents
This is perhaps the easiest way for motorists to be delayed by the police in Lagos. They know that many Nigerians do not have their complete documents and they take advantage of this and randomly stop cars. But if they encounter someone with all their documents, they are terrified that they start making demands which are not backed by law. At the end the policeman will just say Oga, carry your wahala dey go! Only the photocopy of your documents.
Communicate in English
Do you know why many traffic officers are scared of Lawyers? Because lawyers know their constitutional rights and can also speak big grammar. Persons who are familiar with the traffic police know that they prefer to communicate in vernacular. It is a lacuna you should exploit. When he speaks vernacular, reply in English. You will be amazed about how quick he waves you away but not after checking your papers.
Show some respect and be formal
Everyone deserves respect. No less the police. If you do not, they will not hesitate to delay or ‘deal’ with you for the whole day. This is because just a handful of Nigerians appreciate the police. As a caveat, do not be overly respectful as they will take you for a ride. In summary, be formal, keep a straight face and smile intermittently.
Speak with a superior on ground
When a situation is getting out of hand, you should speak to the superior officer on the ground. The superior officer may be more understanding. If this does not work, you can take the name and number of the police officer or their vehicle and make a complaint. You can take advantage of their twitter handle to make complaints. The Nigerian Police complaints handle is @PoliceNG_CRU.
Do not offer or give’bribes’
Offering or giving a bribe is not the best way to wriggle yourself out of an encounter with a police officer as offenders are now being punished under the corruption charge. Sometimes you have to be patient to see through the situation. In the end, it will be resolved.