One of the biggest confrontations on Nigerian roads is that between a driver and a road safety official.
A lot of motorists, reported to Naijauto.com, try to avoid it because it hardly ends in their favor. In fact, once any driver approaches a road block set by the FRSC officials to check for relevant documents and safety precautions, they look around to ensure their seat belts are plugged. They ensure they comport themselves till they are far past the area. Some motorists even reverse and take alternative routes. All these in a bid to avoid getting into confrontations with a road safety official. But in cases where it eventually happens, what do you do?
1. Know the powers a road safety official has
First of all, you need to understand the duties of a road safety official. They are meant to manage and issue car number plates and driver's licenses; educate road users on how to use the different roads in the country; clear any blockades on the roads; and prevent road accidents in ways possible. This goes to show that most of the time, they are actually after your safety and comfort, not after your pockets.
The common law that says obey before complain applies when you are stopped by a road safety official
However, these duties of the road safety official give them certain powers or privileges. There is the highway code that has a list of road offences that a driver can be penalised for. If you commit these offences, these officers have power to arrest you and have you prosecuted.
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Other of their powers include - the power to declare an offender wanted if he or she doesn't answer charges leveled against them; the power to ground cars they believe were stolen or that do not have the proper documentation; the power to seize documents or license they think is fake or that is owned by an offender; the power to detain or remove any vehicle on the road they believe has been parked illegally; and to withdraw your drivers license if you default.
2. Know your rights as a Nigerian driver
Regardless of the powers the road safety official has, you also reserve the right to contest any charge raised against you. Most of the charges can be settled with a fee, but if you feel you're innocent or the fee isn't commiserate with what you're charged with, you can go to a court of competent jurisdiction and demand for a trial.
3. Steps to take when confronting with a road safety official
When a road safety official stops you and you feel they aren't doing a duty within their job description, you don't need to retaliate or fight them. Simply look at the officer's shirt - it usually has their name written on it. Note it down. Possibly, grab your phone and record the audio (or video, if you can) of the confrontation. Write a comprehensive letter detailing what happened and have at least two eye witnesses who can back up your story. Include all necessary and relevant information like your details, contact information of your witnesses, your recording and any other proof that can make your complaint more weighty.
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You can make complaints about FRSC staff to FRSC headquarters
When done, submit it by hand to the Federal Road Safety Commission zonal office in your state, or the headquarters at No. 3, Maputo street, Wuse zone 3, Abuja. Alternatively, you can send it via email to - firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You would likely get a positive feedback. But in case you don't, then you can take it up with a lawyer.
>>> Read more about road usage and safe driving right here on Naijauto.com!