Some disgruntled officials of the Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO) in Akure, Ondo State, have caused the death of twenty-one-year-old Olalekan Olatosin as a result of their recklessness, SaharaReporters found on Thursday.
Our correspondent, who spoke with both the family of the victim and authorities concerned over his death, gathered that late Mr. Olatosin was gruesomely killed last week by a hit-and-run driver who was being trailed by VIO officers who had barricaded the main road for a bribe.
Rather than pay an illicit bribe to VIO officials, the driver fled the scene with VIO in pursuit.
The VIO is a government body under the tutelage of the Ondo State Ministry of Transport saddled with the responsibility of checking vehicle particulars.
One eyewitness, Ms. Iyabo Adepoju, experienced the Akure-Owo-Benin Expressway accident and said that it was caused by the reckless attitude of the officials of the VIO. She added that their actions also caused a heavy traffic gridlock on the day of the incident as sympathizers gathered to rescue the victim.
"The VIO official caused the death of the twenty-one-year-old boy. He was crushed to death by a hit-and-run driver on the express road because they were chasing a reluctant commercial vehicle owner who refused to wait for proper checking after he had been flagged down at a barricaded junction.
"Within some seconds, the driver who was on the run knocked down this little boy because he was being heavily chased by some of the disgruntled VOI officers who had asked him for bribe,” the witness said.
She added that the officials did not stop to attend to the victim and instead continued to chase the driver because they wanted to collect money from him.
"It has become the bad habit of the officials of the VIO to always barricade the road while checking particulars and documents of vehicle owners because all they do is to make money on this road," Ms. Adepoju said.
Family sources told our correspondent that sympathizers who were moved by the accident immediately rushed Mr. Olatosin to a hospital in the Oke Ijebu area of the State capital.
"Lekan was rushed to Joe Jane Hospital on Oke Ijebu Street by some traders on the road for immediate treatment. At the hospital we paid to get him drugs and other treatments but his case got worse.
"The doctor at the hospital later advised us to rush to the trauma center in Ondo State but he died in the hospital due to serious injuries sustained during the accident," a family member told SaharaReporters.
However, it was authoritatively gathered from independent sources in the State Transport Office that the commissioner in charge of the ministry, Nicholas Tofowomo, had been making frantic effort to kill the case from going public and had since been speaking with journalists in the State to avoid publishing the story.
The source also confirmed that the VIO officers were acting on the instructions given to them by Mr. Tofowomo to raise funds for the Transport Ministry as a means of sourcing Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) into the treasury of the State government.
"Let me tell you that those VIO officers are under our ministry and they are really the ones that caused the death of that innocent boy because some of them are working on the mandate given to them concerning target to meet in raising fund for the Transport Office.
"In the State Transport Ministry, our Oga (Nicholas Tofowomo) has given everybody a target that must be met within the month. This target is about raising funds as Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) into the pockets of the State government and our office raised the highest funds for the government," he said.
It was gathered in an interview with a police officer that the VIO officials responsible for the accident were arrested by investigating officers in the Ijapo Police station, but they were later released.
"That man called Nicholas Tofowomo, who is the Commissioner for Transport, is the one causing all this rubbish because the parents of the deceased came here to report the case at the police station,” the officer stated.
"And we referred them to the Ijapo Police Station with one of their lawyers and when the case was reported after they had written a statement, our officers traced the incident to the VIO officers and we immediately arrested them.
"But to my surprise, Mr. Tofowomo called the IPO in charge of the case and liaised with the Commissioner of Police to immediately release and set free the VIO officers from police detention at Ijapo Police station, thereby killing the case."
Our correspondent reliably gathered that in an attempt to hide the case from public attention, the Commissioner for Transport ordered that the gate of the VIO office on Fiwasaye Road in Akure be shut while the officials resume their duty at the Transport Office on Oyemekun Road.
"This is to guide against the threat from some aggrieved youths who vowed to deal with and mob the officers of the VIO in their office over their constant recklessness which has caused damage and forever pains the many households in the State," a source said.
The traumatized father of the deceased, Williams Olatosin, has sought compensation for the death of his son and has allegedly received threats from government officials and police officers.
A human rights lawyer and activist handling the case for the family, Jimoh Saliu, told sources close to SaharaReporters that he has already petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase, to investigate the attempted cover-up by Ondo State police officers and the Commissioner for Transport.
Mr. Saliu said a copy of the petition has been forwarded to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) for further investigation, noting that some government officials had been threatening the family of the deceased to drop the case.