The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has sanctioned 71 driving school operators across Nigeria involved in corrupt practices and other acts of circumvention of the licensing system.
Boboye Oyeyemi, the FRSC Corps Marshal, made this known at a stakeholders’ sensitisation forum put together for driving school operators in Oyo, Ogun and Lagos states on Monday.
The programme, which held at the Sheraton Hotels in Ikeja, was attended by hundreds of operators and government officials from the three states.
Speaking at the event, Mr Oyeyemi said the sensitisation programme was triggered by a PREMIUM TIMES’ investigation that exposed the fraud and sharp practices surrounding the Driving School Standardisation Programme (DSSP) in the three states, including Kwara.
The FRSC boss said the corps was partnering with the State Security Service (SSS) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate and appropriately punish operators who circumvent the DSSP arrangement.
In July, a two-part investigative report by this newspaper exposed how, with the grand collusion of touts, agents and officials of the FRSC, and VIO, many Nigerians obtain driver’s licences without going through the approved processes.
The report also exposed how the institutionalised fraud frustrates many Nigerians who are eager to go through due process in Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, and Oyo states.
The report generated ripples as the federal government consequently directed “full action” against the unscrupulous driving school operators and other saboteurs of the nation’s driver licensing system.
Speaking in Abuja in August, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, said the FRSC had been mandated to punish those “breaching the DSSP portal”.
Similarly, the FRSC in its reaction lauded PREMIUM TIMES and vowed to deal with the saboteurs.
On Monday, the Corps Marshal said the erring driving schools had been sanctioned, with many suspended and barred from accessing the FRSC portal. Others, he said, are being investigated and would be dealt with if found culpable.
Speaking further, an apparently angry Mr Oyeyemi lambasted corrupt driving school operators issuing certificates to applicants without proper training, adding that money realised from such venture is ‘blood money’.
“Enough is enough. If the driving schools are doing well, the crashes on our roads would have been reduced,” he lamented, adding that for corrupt operators who circumvent the DSSP system and issue out certificates, if found culpable after investigation, “I will either hand you over to the EFCC or DSS.”
“When you circumvent the process, what we get is increased in crashes,” he said.
In her comments, rights activists and social campaigner, Joe Okei-Odumakin, said the issue of driver’s license is sensitive because it involves lives and should be handled with caution.
She argued that issuing certificates to an untrained applicant is “equivalent to sending assassins to the road.” According to her, no one has the right to take another person’s life and it is sad to witness such occurrences on Nigerian roads. She urged the operators to obey the rules and standard.
She also urged the Nigerian government to commence trial of corrupt driving schools before the law court even after ensuring that such schools are shut down.
Stakeholders hail PREMIUM TIMES
Meanwhile, stakeholders at the forum hailed PREMIUM TIMES for its diligent reporting of the issue and other developmental issues in Nigeria.
Speaking during an interactive session, the Corps Marshal, Mr Oyeyemi, specifically eulogised the investigative platform for exposing the ills in the DSSP licensing system, while urging the newspaper to continue to partner with regulatory agencies in sanitizing the Nigerian society.
At the event, printed copies of PREMIUM TIMES’ two-part reports were circulated to all the participants from the three states (Oyo, Ogun, and Lagos) and Mr Oyeyemi urged the operators from the states to take note of concerns raised in the reports.
“These three states (Ogun, Oyo and Lagos) are very crucial,” he said, adding that reports have shown that they are considered places where road crashes occur frequently in the country. The corps marshal sought the support of PREMIUM TIMES in instilling sanity within the DSSP system and in sensitizing the public on the issues, adding that a part of such sensitization efforts holds later in the year in the South south region.
Other participants who spoke also urged operators to take note of the issues and make amend. Similarly, officials of the ministries of transportation in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states pledged to fix some administrative issues raised at the meeting.
In a plan of action notice issued at the end of the programme, stakeholders agreed that there is need for state committees of driving schools to re-certify all accredited driving schools; to fuse the two associations of operators into one; to criminalise attempts to hack into the FRSC portal; and to shut down all unapproved driving schools, among other resolutions.