The United Kingdom Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, recently was fined by the British police for not wearing a seatbelt in the back of a moving car while on a trip to northern England. Sunak was seen turning in his seat without a seatbelt on. The PM’s office at Downing Street said the incident was a “brief error of judgment”, but Lancashire constabulary announced they were fining Sunak for the infraction.
The force said: “You will be aware that a video has been circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seatbelt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire. After looking into this matter, we issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.”
Reacting, a spokesperson for Sunak said: “The prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will, of course, comply with the fixed penalty.” A fixed penalty means Sunak can pay a fine to avoid a court hearing. The police did not disclose how much they had fined the prime minister, but according to the government’s safety campaign, any driver or passenger not wearing a seatbelt is breaking the law and is liable to be fined up to £500 if the case goes to court, according to The Guardian UK.
Sunak’s transportation habits were already a talking point in the United Kingdom before the incident, a report by AFP says. His political rivals have taken aim at his use of a private jet to make multiple short flights in recent days. This is not the first time Sunak has been slapped with a police fine. He was fined while serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer for attending a Downing Street party in June 2020 that violated the government’s rules on social distancing, according to an AFP report.
The latest fine makes Sunak the second Conservative prime minister to receive a police fine in less than 12 months. The Metropolitan police, in 2020, issued a fixed-penalty notice to Boris Johnson for attending a party during lockdown. Sunak was fined for attending the same event as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The prime minister of a powerful country fined for not wearing a seatbelt! Points to note. Firstly, the police didn’t identify him by his position. They only said “an individual”, “a 42-year-old man from London”. They were simply reminding everyone that the law is no respecter of position and all are equal before the law. Secondly, the prime minister readily accepted he was at fault and would pay the “fixed penalty” the police had slapped on him. “The prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised”, his office said.
Fast track to Nigeria or another Third World nation. It is unheard of that the police have found a prime minister/ President guilty of offence and penalized them. The police, by their training, are taught certain stereotypes, including the law is not meant for the powerful but the weak. This confers on the latter a certain degree of impunity to break the law and damn the consequence. Indeed,there will be no consequence because no crime has been committed as far as the police are concerned.
This is why the British case has fascinated millions of Nigerians. Yes, Muhammadu Buhari refused to drive through the “stop” red light after he was elected president in 2015. He would not begin his presidency with a blatant breach of a traffic law. But he only was/is one in a million that would respect the law. Will the British example ever happen in Nigeria any time sooner. Your guess!