THE FRSC, NEGLIGENCE AND TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON/

In a landmark case of Ejisun v. Ajao, as related by Gilbert Kodilinye and Oluwole Aluko the plaintiff was riding his motorcycle along an unobstructed highway near Funtua in the then North-Central State, when he was knocked down from behind by a lorry driven by the first defendant, a servant of the second defendant. The Judge S.P.J. said:

The driver of a motor vehicle following another vehicle on the high way is under a duty to drive his motor vehicle with reasonable care and to keep a proper look-out to avoid a collision with the vehicle he is following. If a collision occurs then prima facie he is negligent, the onus being on him to show that he has taken all the steps which a reasonable man would take in the circumstances, that is, all possible care to avoid a collision….The evidence for the plaintiff shows that the first defendant ran into his motorcycle along a very wide, straight and unobstructed highway. …. The presumption, therefore, is that the accident could not have occurred without some sort of negligence on the part of the first defendant. (Spectrum Books, Ibadan pg.51).

This decision remains as trite today as it was in 1975. Even if laws change, the roads have not changed.

As many journey to the East for Christmas. The onus lies on the Federal Road Safety Commission and the Road Marshals to maintain law and order. The aiders of that commission should also be away that money is a necessary part of travelling. In other words, the banks should not be lousy. The queues in the ATM centers are troubling. One gets the impression that there is no cash at all. The banks should wake up to their call and realize that they are so indispensable in the running of the economy. There should not be any hoarding of cash by the banks and on the side of the Marshalls; they should avoid shooting people indiscriminately now that they have been licensed to carry fire arms. (Though I don’t know how a civil organization like the F.R.S.C should be licensed to carry arms, in addition to that of the Civil defence!)

So if one thinks of Achebe who prior to the inception of the F.R.S.C says “if Mr. B sees Mr. A ahead of him in the queue or in the traffic. He does not reason that Mr. A is there because he took the trouble to arrive early. He says instead: this is where I want to be; he must give way to me.” What Achebe is saying in earnest is that “Patience” is also part and parcel of what constitutes negligence. So my exhortation is that the F.R.S.C and drivers should do a thorough self-examination and be on the look-out for rude drivers and also insist on their right to avoid a fist-cuff. Wishing all those who tra.verse the Nigerian Roads a Merry Xmas.