The recent auctioning of vehicles done by the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit (Taskforce) was fraught with corruption, a source in the unit told SaharaReporters.
The unit had said it would auction a total of 88 vehicles forfeited by the Lagos State Mobile Court for driving against traffic. The agency said it obtained a court order authorising it to carry out the exercise.
Chairman of the agency, CSP Shola Jejeloye, said, “The offenders were arraigned before the Lagos Mobile Court and found guilty of the said crime which resulted in the forfeiture of their vehicles to the state government by the court in line with Part (3) item (27) of the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law of 2018.”
But the source told SaharaReporters that the officials in charge of the process had already identified the people they would sell to.
"The auctioning was done based on the connection people had. The Task Force handed over the vehicles to the auctioneers. If you meet those ones, your bid would very likely be favoured.
"Apart from the usual bidding, you should go behind to bid with extra money. People are usually there in their numbers but they don't sell it to anybody anyhow."
The vehicles were auctioned on Wednesday at the agency’s car park in Ikeja.
Tears flowed as some vehicle owners could not bid for their vehicles.
A Victim's Pain
In a video posted by The PUNCH, a victim was lamenting how his minibus was auctioned off after being impounded on December 22, 2021.
"This vehicle is mine; it was impounded on December 22. I have been going to their office in Oshodi and I've been coming here, they've been telling me the vehicle is not in their record but I went there today and they told me the vehicle had been listed for auctioning. I have a driver using this vehicle; he said he was driving along Costain Road when the task force guys blocked the road and arrested all of them.
"We came here, we saw the vehicle but they said its information has not been entered into their database, and that we should go to Oshodi. We went there, met some people and they told us to come back so they could do the paperwork. I have been going to and fro for about two weeks and recently, they said it was in their database. They said they had entered it and that they would tell me what to do. Today when I got there, they said that the vehicle was up for auction."
Nigerians have taken to social media to show displeasure at the existence of laws that allow for impounded vehicles to be auctioned to the public.
Many noted that the cost of each auctioned vehicle and the amount paid by the highest bidder is too wide.
Some opined that having the owners pay fines for the offences committed would be better than auctioning their vehicles at ridiculously low prices.
For instance, Oluwa Kenny (@IamKennyBabs) tweeted, "Wickedness of the highest order. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. @jidesanwoolu this is pure wickedness. I'm sure the owners will gladly pay even N500,000 fine to have their car back instead of watching it auctioned off at a ridiculous price. You wonder why people jump into the lagoon?"
Olarinde Olufemi (@OlarindeOlufem1) said, "Huge fine would be better. Auctioning someone’s property during the (COVID-19) pandemic is insensitive. Let’s be humane."