A pastor, Anthony Esezobor, has accused officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority of threatening his life after his Mercedes Benz SUV was impounded by the agency nine months ago.
According to the cleric, the SUV was impounded by men of the Zone 30 command over what was described as “wilful obstruction of oncoming traffic.”
He said the incident happened on May 15, 2019, while he drove in the Surulere area of the state.
Esezobor told PUNCH Metro that efforts to retrieve his SUV were futile, adding that the patrol leader of Zone 30, one Mr Williams, allegedly imposed a fine of N300,000 on him.
The pastor said, “I know my SUV was unlawfully impounded, so I had no choice but to tell my lawyer to file a suit at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. We have appeared in court several times and LASTMA authorities refused to come to court.
“On November 1, 2019, they called for a meeting asking for settlement out of court and after the meeting, the Director of Legal Department of LASTMA, Mr Kehinde Akerele, promised to do a report to the General Manager of LASTMA, Mr Olajide Oduyoye, to release my car. But till date, my car is still unlawfully held at their office in the Alaka area of Surulere. Also, the charge against me was changed to ‘wrongful overtaking.’
“My lawyer has written to the LASTMA GM, the state Commissioner for Transportation and no action has been taken. Instead, Oduyoye and his team have been insisting on me signing an undertaking to withdraw the matter from the court before my car would be released.”
Esezobor alleged that his life had been under threat, saying LASTMA officials broke into his car to get his office address.
He said, “On January 13, 29 and 30, 2020, two LASTMA officers came to look for me on three separate occasions. One of the officers, who had my picture on his phone, was showing the picture to people around asking if they knew me. My car was registered with my office address, so the LASTMA guys broke into my car that is still with them and got my office address from the car’s particulars.
“It is logical to conclude that these LASTMA men have a mission and have been sent to trail me to make an attempt on my life.”
When contacted, the LASTMA GM, Oduyoye, refuted Esezobor’s claim that traffic officials were after his life, adding that the pastor went back on an agreement with the agency to withdraw the case from the court for the vehicle to be released.
He said, “I was not the GM when the incident happened; I heard about it through the legal director, Mr Akerele. I was told that the complainant was asking for the release of his vehicle even though he had gone to court and we told him the release of the vehicle was subject to him retracting the case from court. We had started processing the release of his vehicle when it was realised that he had not retracted the court case, so we had to stall on it.
“When I met him and his lawyer, he argued that he was wrongly apprehended and that the release of his vehicle should not be on the premise of him retracting the case in court, but I told him that the legal director feared that he could still attempt to make a claim against the organisation if we released the vehicle without him retracting the case.
“I advised that instead of expending cost on the case, why not take the vehicle. But he declined and said he wanted N25m compensation from the agency. So, we decided that if he wanted to make a claim, then we would allow the legal process to take its course.
“He has a case to answer for the vehicle to have been impounded. I wanted a peaceful resolution of the matter, but dragging it to this point was more of his own doing and saying we are trying to intimidate or threaten his life, is just an attempt to sensationalise the case. He has my number and he has refused to tell me about his observations.”