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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 08, 2008

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Submitted: May 08, 2008





The city of Lagos, which is Nigeria’s business capital, has no doubt become the most conducive habitat for the social miscreants called "Agbero boys" but worst of all is the state government’s seeming inability to keep them off the roads.

Prior to the 1999 elections that brought ex-governor Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu into power, the hoodlums in uniform called Agbero that walk about the roads of Lagos demanding money from commercial vehicle owners, market women and hawkers were not found on our roads.

Most worrisome however, is the alarming rate at which they engage in various vices to make their collections. They would stop at nothing to obtain money from commercial vehicle operators; including forceful removal of glass wipers, side mirrors, seats and fuel-tank covers if they refuse to pay.

Market women and street hawkers are not left out of the torment by these "tax collectors" as their goods are often confiscated if they fail to meet the demands of Agbero boys.

In January 20, 2008, Punch newspaper did a special report on Agbero boys and the report revealed that different categories of people, mostly young boys of school age, have invaded Oshodi and other major markets in Lagos metropolis with a mission of collecting what they call levies from helpless traders and hawkers.

The report also revealed that a pregnant woman who was hawking candles at Oshodi, landed in the hands of "the collectors", towards the end of year 2007. The woman had been pleading with a group of collectors to give her some time to pay up. As she wanted to kneel down to beg them, one of them gave her a heavy slap and she was dragged on the floor until people rallied round to rescue her.

This leaves us with few questions; what is the government doing about Agbero? What are the Police doing about Agbero? Perhaps, the government would be the only institution that needs to give answers as to why these miscreants remain on our roads.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Command, Mr Frank Mba dismisses the allegations of Police complicity in the growing recklessness of these Agbero boys. The PPRO says "in a situation where you challenge an Agbero and he dips his hand into his pocket and brings out the identity card of a local government or an Agency, what would you do?"

Mba adds that the practice by which different Local government councils flood the markets with collectors creates problems for the Police. He seems to have got a full picture of the whole situation because most of these Agberos have been found to be working for some faceless, but powerful individuals who are familiar with the markets from which they collect levies.

However, since the beginning of his administration, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola has made several attempts to clean Lagos roads of these "hoodlums in uniform" called Agbero, but to no avail. Police report reveals that about 10,000 area boys have been arrested and 7,500 of them have been tried in court, since Governor Fashola resumed office, but Agberos abound in Lagos.

No one knows if the government is behind the Agberos. No one knows if government authorized their acts. One thing is clear however; Lagosians want Agbero off Lagos roads.

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