Lagos is a cosmopolitan city. This accounts for the increasing number of cars on the road round the clock. This also accounts for the various road traffic officers that are on the road to ensure traffic rules and regulations are not only observed but dutifully enforced.
However, as a result of the need to beat traffic and a number of other factors, it could be painful, stressful and annoying when your car is stopped by a road traffic officers or policemen for questioning. As you should already know, this could take quite some time depending on an array of factors. Such factors can range from how you are dressed to how many occupants are in your car.
Many Lagosians have been known to lose their cool on this account or have driven off when stopped only to be trailed by traffic officers in hot pursuit. To avoid such drama and the headache that comes with it, we have gathered some smart tips to help you avoid delays whenever you are stopped by a police officer.
Have Your Complete Particulars
“Wey your particulars?” This is perhaps the first thing you will hear from any Nigerian policeman that stops you on the road. ‘Particulars’ is a term they use to describe all your official vehicle documents. Many Nigerian drivers are notorious for not having complete vehicle documents. As you might have guessed, this gives the police an opportunity to arrest, threaten and ultimately, extort money from them on the road.
However, once they discover that your vehicle documents are complete, they are quick to beat a retreat with any plans to extort money from you. In fact, they instantly switch to a friendly demeanour and politely ask if you have anything for the day or weekend for them. This is a signal that you are free to ride on.
Politely Tell them You Have Committed No Crime
Traffic officers are usually careful with drivers who can comport themselves. When stopped, ask them why you were stopped and address their concerns politely without abusing or threatening to report them.
In good English, alert them to your rights as a citizen of the country and do not fall for whatever trap of familiarity they may try to set by speaking in vernacular with them.
Communicating in Standard English wears them off quickly, as they will think you are a lawyer. This will make them have fewer reasons to detain you any further once your documents are intact.
Give Them Their Due Respect as Officers of the Law
The police have many tricks up their sleeves that could be deployed to delay you if they sense any sign of disrespect towards them. This is a natural human reaction, as even the lowest-ranked law enforcement officer is entitled to respect and dignity.
It helps if you see them as just performing their duties instead of trying to extort money from you. Don’t show them that you are among the many Nigerians who do not see anything commendable in their efforts to keep the country safe.
However, the other side of the coin is being too eager to please them. Being too respectful may lead to them overstepping their bounds as officers of the law. Be respectful, but assure them that you know your rights.
Never Suggest You Have Bribe For Them
Many drivers have fallen into greater trouble by trying to buy off a police officer even when their documents are complete. Attempting to bribe an officer of the law is a crime. It even raises their sense of suspicion when a driver is willing to part with money without being asked to do so.
This leads the officer to want to know what you have in your car, who you are and why you were willing to pay him to let you go. By the time the officer answers all these questions through a thorough stop and search of your car, you will discover that you have ended up spending more time than normal.
Always allow the traffic officers to do their jobs without any suggestion that you are willing to offer a bribe of any sort.
Address the Most Senior Officer on Ground
There are times when the junior officers may be proving too difficult. This could be as a result of you having an expired license or a document that is due for an update that you haven’t had the time to sort out. At times like this, it is advisable to ask to speak to their most senior officer on the ground, who is likely to be more understanding.
If the most senior officer acts just the same way as the junior officers, make it a point to note their names and numbers and file a complaint at a later time with the appropriate agency.
Regardless of the prevalence of tough and unpredictable police officers on the road, you could avoid delays by abiding by traffic rules and regulations. Do not drive excessively fast or try to beat the traffic lights.
You should avoid overloading your car and make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. Have your complete vehicle documents and you will have fewer reasons to be delayed by any police officer.