By Olasunkanmi Akoni and Bose Adelaja
Emotions were let loosed on Thursday when a widow, 49, Eorothy Dike and her son, Osinachi Ndukwe, wept openly as they begged for price reduction while their only vehicle bought at the rate of N1.8.million on hired purchase was being auctioned for N450,000.
Lagos State Government through its Ministry of Justice and The state Taskforce, organised the public auction of over 134 abandoned and forfeited vehicles, at Lagos State Task Force’ headquarters, Alausa, Ikeja, where a crowd of auctioneers, agents, buyers and vehicle owners tried to outwit one another.
A private auction House took charge of the event under the supervision of Mrs Arinola Ogbara -Banjoko of Lagos State Special Crimes Coordinator (Mobile Court) and Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Shola Jejeloye, the Chairman, State task Force.
At about about 12.35pm, Eorothy and her son who had earlier jumped for joy when their mini bus (Korope), with number plate, ANAMBRA NEN 347 YX, was displayed for auction with an opening bid of N50,000 but the joy was short lived.
Few minutes later, the atmosphere changed as they wept profusely, rolled on the ground and begged for price reduction as the bid kept jerking up and hit N430, 000.
The bid was about to close when suddenly the mother and son shouted N450,000 loudly, “help us, help us, please, don’t increase the price again. We cannot afford this but we are hopeful that the vehicle will be ours so that we can work again and raise money to feed ourselves.”
The Imo State-born widow was heartbroken to the extent that all she could muttered was: “Help me, help me. I am happy to repurchase the bus but the problem is that we cannot afford N450,000.
“I am a widow with two children and I hawk herbs on the streets of Lagos for survival.
“Osinachi is my son and I lost his father three months after delivery and since then, I have been battling to feed my children.
“When we heard that the bus will be auctioned today, we borrowed N59,000 to attend the event. Unfortunately, the price for the bus was closed at N450,000,” she lamented.
I lost my 3yrs old girl while on prison-Son
In an emotional laden voice, Osinachi, 31, narrated how he became a commercial driver due to unemployment.
According to him, “I bought the bus at N1.8 million on hired purchase in 2021 and was plying Ijegun enroute Cele Expressway.
“The bus was three months old and I had remitted N300,000 when I drove against traffic in Cele area and the bus was impounded.
“Not only that, I was sentenced to three years imprisonment which I completed recently but before the completion, information reached me that my three years old daughter was ill due to lack of fund and before I completed the jail term, I got information that she had died.
“I am here with my mother with the expectation that we will buy the bus at the rate of N50,000. Surprisingly, the price was closed at N450,000 and we have 48 hours to complete the payment.
“We have sold most of our belongings to feed and are left with nothing. This is a great problem before us. My father died while I was three years old and my mother has been there for me but there is no way she can raise N450,000.
“Who will I turn to at a time many Nigerians are finding it difficult to feed? I don’t know what to do again,” he said.
Earlier, the auction exercise which took place, witnessed members of the public stormed the venue to participate in the sale of vehicles confiscated for various traffic offences ranging from driving against traffic. Popularly called “One-way” to willful obstruction of traffic across various parts of the State.
Speaking to newsmen, Jejeloye who stated that the terminating end of any enforcement exercise carried out by the Agency is the Mobile Court who determines the fate of vehicles seized for traffic infractions.
He charged the bidders to always summon the courage to approach the Mobile Court and clear their charges anytime they flout the law.
According to Jejeloye, “I want to lay emphasis on today’s event which brought us here. People have committed various traffic offences ranging from obstruction, driving against traffic, dangerous driving and reversing on the highway among others and that is why most of these vehicles were impounded by our enforcement team.
“I want you to know that the enforcement does not terminate at the office of the Taskforce but at the Mobile Court which has the final say.
“Let me tell you this; traffic offences are not criminal, therefore, be bold enough to come to the office rather than hibernating at the yard. You are expected to come and clear yourselves at the Mobile Court.
“There are some vehicle owners that have not shown up since their vehicles were impounded. You need to have the confidence to face the Magistrate and give him reasons for committing the offence.
“I have seen a lot of judgements on my table whereby somebody drove against traffic and his offence was struck out because he was able to convince the Magistrate beyond a reasonable doubt. So, you don’t need to accept defeat before the battle starts.
“I am not saying that you should continue to flout the law because the enforcement is not going to stop. It will continue.”
The Lead Auctioneer, Ade Onanuga, CEO, said the company would uphold the ethics of its training to ensure transparency.
The first vehicle to be auctioned was a Toyota Avensis, EKY 1000,000 whose price was closed at N1,025,000.
Another was a white bus KID 90 YD with the price starting from N50,000 and closed at N670,000 while the price of a Toyota Corolla started with N400,00 and closed at N1.9m.
Similarly, the price of a mini bus EPE 852 XS, kicked off from N50,000 and closed at N500,000.
Onanuga said any vehicle that is not picked up within 48 hours will pay daily charges of N5,000 as demurrage.