‘CHIP WHIP’? – The Nation

  • Owner of the jeep with the fake number plate must be fished out and prosecuted

How could the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) have made the grievous mistake of spelling ‘Chip Whip’, displayed on the vehicle number plate of what was initially thought to be the official vehicle of the Kano State Chief Whip? This must have been the question agitating the minds of any literate person who saw the number plate on the vehicle, at least until the FRSC issued a disclaimer that the number plate did not emanate from it. Trust the ubiquitous social media, today’s equivalent of the proverbial tortoise whose imprimatur is seen virtually on everything, especially the bad or evil. Pictures of the number plate which trended on the social platforms attracted criticisms and caustic comments over the spelling error.

Although it is generally believed that only God is infallible, but then, there are some errors that are unpardonable. This was one such unpardonable error. The FRSC is supposed to be an elite corps, so to say. Its founding father, Prof Wole Soyinka, is a Nobel laureate, his successors, including Olu Agunloye, as well as the incumbent corps marshal, Dr Oyeyemi Boboye, are well educated. It is therefore expected that such an organisation would not joke with quality control, especially with a sensitive item like number plates.

The Kano discovery is worrisome in that we do not know how many such number plates are on the streets. The police and other security and traffic agencies should apprehend others using such number plates with a view to interrogating them for the source of the number plates’

This is why it was a big relief when the corps disowned the now controversial number plate. FRSC spokesman, Bisi Kazeem, calmed frayed nerves when he explained that the FRSC could not have made such an error because it has a rigorous quality assurance procedure in producing and issuing licences.

The corps said in a statement: “For the avoidance of doubt, FRSC with its international quality management certification (ISO 9001: 2008) has rigorous quality procedures for producing and issuing any of its security documents which makes the possibility of such obvious grammatical errors on any of its licences an impossibility.

“We are, therefore, making it abundantly clear to members of the public that FRSC as the lead agency in road traffic management and safety administration in the country has nothing to do with the said number plate as some people are insinuating on some social media platforms.”

Explanation taken.

But, beyond this is the more serious question of where then the said number plate originated from? Who issued it? The FRSC has to get to the root of the matter, especially as the Chief Whip of Kano State House of Assembly, Ayuba Durum, hitherto thought to own the vehicle with the customised number has also dissociated himself from it. “I was baffled by a torrent of messages drawing my attention to a gaffe on a number plate purported to be mine. To set the records straight, members of the Kano State House of Assembly are yet to be assigned any official vehicles. I use my private vehicle with a regular not customised number plate. My vehicle registration number is Gaya, Kano, and whoever knows me can verify this,” he said. To show the extent of his embarrassment, Mr Durum said he had instructed his lawyers to investigate the matter and take appropriate legal action.

Obviously the owner of the vehicle has been using the number plate to impersonate the state chief whip, even if he was only clever by half. While there is nothing unusual about certain public officials having customised number plates, there is everything unusual in making it possible for just anyone to produce any number plate of his or her fancy. Number plates have security implications. They facilitate identification of vehicle ownership as well as criminals when crimes are committed with such vehicles.

The Kano discovery is worrisome in that we do not know how many such number plates are on the streets. The police and other security and traffic agencies should apprehend others using such number plates with a view to interrogating them for the source of the number plates. In addition, such security agencies must insist on searching these vehicles bearing our VIPs because that is the only way to nip this sort of practice in the bud. Those who are doing this would continue to do so for as long as the security agencies and traffic officials on the roads allow such vehicles easy passage without subjecting them to routine searches like other vehicles.

Meanwhile, whoever owns the vehicle with the fake number plate must be fished out and prosecuted.

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