By Rebecca Ejifoma
The Lagos State Police Command has urged auto-workshop owners to keep record of cars which come to their workshops for repairs so as to check the menace of car theft.
According to the Lagos State Police Command Spokesperson, SP Dolapo Badmos, this move would make it easier for the police to trace stolen vehicles whenever there was need to check the auto-workshops. THISDAY gathered that some auto-workshop owners, especially the road side workshops, had continued to lament the extortion by some policemen who had capitalised on the excuse of searching for stolen vehicles.
She debunked the report; adding that the search for stolen vehicles at auto-workshops was not an everyday activity of the police except there was suspicion that an auto-workshop harboured stolen vehicles.
“You know it’s not a thing we can be bouncing on them all the time. But in a situation where the police within the jurisdiction have reasons to suspect that a stolen vehicle is being repaired in the workshop, the police can go there and then it becomes an issue when the workshop cannot come with the log book.
“It’s a regulation that they are expected to do because ignorance is not an excuse before the law. If you are repairing a stolen vehicle and the police come in to ask for the owner of the vehicle and you cannot trace the person because you didn’t log all the information you should have got from the owner, then we won’t spare you”, she explained.
Reacting to allegations that policemen often extort commercial motorcycles to enable them ply restricted routes, Badmos said that it remained an allegation until it was otherwise proved.
“The restriction on Okada in plying restricted routes is still on and it’s on-going. We arrest daily. We take about 200 to 300 task force. But you know Nigerians, they like to deliberately disobey laws but when we travel out, we will be the first to obey,” she said.
However, CSP Adebowale Lawal, PPRO in charge of zone 2 told THISDAY that police officers visit auto workshops because of the rampant case of snatching of vehicles.
Continuing, he said that the criminals use auto workshops to give the stolen vehicle a new look before disposing it off.
“Some of the auto workshop owners are innocent. But because they do not keep proper records of who owns the vehicle, they fall victim most times. We have had several cases where cars were snatched and taken to a mechanic who innocently worked on the car. “They have machines they use to efface the chassis number and so many other things,’’ he said.
He added that it was necessary for police officers to carry out a surveillance check to ensure that some of these auto workshops do not exist.