A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has backed a motorist, Oluwadamilare Afolarin, whose car was burnt on the premises of the Lagos State Vehicle Inspection Service.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, described the treatment of the victim by the VIS director, Gbolahan Toriola, as unfair and unjust, calling for compensation for Afolarin.
He threatened that if the government did not buy the victim a new car, including compensating him for the maltreatment in seven days, he would sue for damages.
PUNCH Metro had reported that the 42-year-old man’s car was impounded by the Eti-Osa office of the VIS over a cracked windscreen.
He was fined N80,000 for the offence on the grounds that he also didn’t have any vehicle document, although the victim tendered a government-approved car registration document.
About two weeks later, while he prepared to pay the fine into the agency’s account, he was reported to have been called by one Akeem, who asked him to proceed to the Ojodu Berger office of the VIS where he was later told that his car had been burnt.
Our correspondent reported that Akeem offered Afolarin N200,000 and later took him to the director’s office at Alausa.
The director, Toriola, after a closed-door meeting with Akeem, allegedly assaulted Afolarin and accused him of sneaking into the VIS premises to burn the car.
Toriola allegedly ordered that his shoes and phone be seized, while he should be taken to the Ogombo Police Division, where he was detained for three days.
The victim was said to have been released after he was forced to sign an undertaking not to report the case to the press or post it on the social media.
PUNCH Metro reported that the state ministry of transportation set up a panel to look into the case.
The state Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Anofi Elegushi, had confirmed the development and promised to update our correspondent as the event unfolded.
However, Falana, who had taken over the case pro bono, said the government must buy Afolarin a new car.
Falana said, “We are writing them to buy him a new car and pay for damages for the humiliation meted out to him because he was beaten up, slapped and detained illegally in a police cell. His vehicle was alleged to have been burnt in their custody; either they set fire to the vehicle or it got burnt accidentally, they are liable.
“How can they say that he burnt the vehicle on their premises; a premises guarded by policemen? They cannot maintain that because it is illogical and that explanation is not acceptable. We are giving them one week and if they fail to accede to his demand, we are going to court. We will sue for damages to the tune of N100m.”