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No, governor of Nigeria’s Lagos state hasn’t ordered traffic agency to stop arresting motorists

IN SHORT: Social media posts claim that Babajide Sanwo-Olu has warned the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority not to arrest drivers. The claims are false, the traffic agency says. 

A message circulating on Facebook in Nigeria claims that Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has stopped the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (Lastma) from arresting motorists who commit traffic offences.

Don't Arrest Any Motorist, Sanwo-Olu Warns LASTMA,” reads the headline of the post

The traffic agency was established in July 2000 to control and manage traffic in Lagos state, the country’s populous economic hub.

The message continues: “The duty of LASTMA is to manage traffic and not to arrest anyone.I have heard alot of complaint, any Officials that violate the rule of his work, will be severely dealt with.”’

The post includes a picture of Sanwo-Olu, his deputy Obafemi Hamzat and two other Lagos state government officials holding what appears to be a press conference.

Lastma's role and responsibilities are clearly stated on its website

Arresting drivers who commit offences isn't listed. But the agency insists it has the power to do so and warned the “faceless individuals” behind the posts to stop misleading the public.

The claim has also appeared here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But did Sanwo-Olu order Lastma officers not to arrest motorists? We checked.


‘Disregard post

On 9 June 2023, the traffic authority in a reported statement urged drivers to ignore and disregard the message, which has been circulating since February 2020.

The authority said its general manager had “previously debunked the fake online news alleging that Lastma officials were banned from arresting motorists” who flouted the state transport laws.

Its officers would “not hesitate to enforce those laws whenever violated to transform the state's transportation system towards ensuring the free flow of traffic and reducing road accidents,” the agency said.

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