The commission told PREMIUM TIMES early Monday that the rumour was being circulated by mischievous elements looking to foment disorder in the society. The Federal Road Safety Commission on Monday said Nigerians should disregard news reports claiming that the agency had begun distribution of arms to its officials.
Bisi Kazeem, FRSC Head of Media Relations, said some “irresponsible” people took a recent statement of the Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, out of context to suit their agenda.
“The Corps Marshal was lamenting the recent findings that 70 marshals lost their lives this year alone to some outlawed motorists,” Mr. Kazeem said.
“He then stated that such a high number of losses could have been avoided if FRSC personnel were carrying arms as allowed by the law.
“But he quickly added that there is no immediate plan to implement the law allowing officials to carry arms,” Mr. Kazeem said.
“It’s unfortunate that some wicked people now took that to mean that he said officials are now being armed,” he said. “It’s a figment of their imagination.”
The disclaimer came hours after social media descended heavily on the commission between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning over the rumour.
On Twitter, users lampooned the agency and circulated a picture that depicted road safety officials being drilled by the Nigerian Army on how to handle firearms.
But Mr. Kazeem said the picture was dug out from trainings that took place years ago to make it seem as if it’s part of a purported new arrangement to arm officials.
“We’ve been undergoing such trainings on regular intervals since 1992 when Ibrahim Babangida was in office,” Mr. Kazeem said. “But we have never put the exercise in general practice of our operation and we have no plans of implementing it in the nearest future.”
An amendment to the FRSC Act in 2007 granted the road traffic manager the power to bear arms like the police and other security agencies. But successive Corps Marshals of the commission did not prioritise its implementation.