Reps declare war on civilians


In another sorry plot twist at the House of Representatives, the House Committee on Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) has pointed out that the body’s enabling act of 1992 permits its officials to wield weapons and that it was about time that this provision was adhered to. According to Akinfolarin Mayowa, who led the committee, no stone should be left unturned in eradicating accidents on the road and so FRSC officials should wield weapons to enforce federal traffic laws. Although it is not clear where the mix-up arose, it is expedient to note that the FRSC (establishment) Act of 2007 repealed the 1992 version of the Act.

It is not immediately clear what branch of philosophy the lawmaker subscribed to, which enlightened him that the best cause of action that the country needs at the moment is the arming of another paramilitary corps. It is also not clear how much research the House Committee undertook into the causes of road accidents that would justify the expenditure of funds on the arming of this body and the subsequent training of the FRSC’s 280 units nationwide, but the legislator displayed matchless temerity in boldly presenting that proposal to the house.

The use of force as a first cause of action continues to rankle Nigerians, who are fresh off protests against the excessive use of force by the police. Nothing can justify Hon Mayowa’s call for arming the FRSC, especially as Section 14 of the 2007 act notes that the equipment to be provided for the corps by the commission include uniforms, identification cards, light reflecting night garments, raincoats, high-powered motor-cycles, motor cars, ambulances, recovery vehicles, powerful touches, two-way mobile radio, telephone sets and any other necessary communication gadget. Firearms were not listed among the necessary equipment for the corps’ members and the legal principle of ejusdem generis, which allows interpreters of the law deduce other items that can be added to the list, will not justify the addition of firearms.

The unwise proposition for the use of firearms by the corps also takes the responsibilities of corps members, as spelt out in Section 4 of the Act, to the extreme. Already, Nigerians have kicked against the arming of FRSC members, being all too acquainted with the thirst of security bodies for ultra vires use of force. The legislators behind the proposition may find that it will be easier to brainstorm other more civil propositions to tackle poor adherence to traffic laws than the introduction of guns, especially given the recent flare-up of the youths against police brutality.

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Omotimehin Nelson is a Nigerian award-winning content writer. He derives passion for creative writing. Join me

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