- Category: Society
- Published on Friday, 24 June 2011 04:56
- Written by Admin
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There was pandemonium at Obanikoro, Lagos Mainland, yesterday when soldiers clashed with policemen attached to the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA).
Pictures showing the lance corporal at the centre of the clash
Trouble started when a soldier riding in a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) drove through the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane at about 8 am was accosted by the states task force on environment attached to the state government. BRT is reserved for LAMATA buses operated by the state government.
It was gathered further that the armed policemen and the LASTMA officials threatened to effect the arrest of the soldier who claimed he need the lane because he had an emergency to attend to. According to the sources, “if they wanted to turn back they had the opportunity of reversing their vehicles and move back. But because they were soldiers and felt they could deal with the police they started coming and even threatened to disarm the police officers who attempted to tow the female soldier’s vehicle. They resisted it even when the officer pleaded with the officers .
The witness said that the officer acted irrationally, insulting the police officers and dared anyone to tow his vehicle, the attitude brought about a mild drama at the scene.
“ Because of his rudeness, the policemen who had earlier let go almost 10 vehicles being driven by soldiers who violated the use of the BRT lane to avoid trouble decided to tow the vehicle. The Lance Corporal gave a headbutt to a police officer who was trying to drive his car. The witness explained that efforts by the undeterred policemen to tow the vehicle was resisted by the corporal who slapped and brutalised the police officers at will, while the police were being careful to avert a re-occurrence of the Badagry episode.
He said ,“ As the struggle ensued between the Lance Corporal, some street urchins (Area Boys), who supported the soldier suddenly went wild, wanting to foment trouble but the police succeeded in arresting some of them who were hauled into the Black Maria.” An eyewitness said during the ensuing argument, the soldier who was brandishing his identity card started making phone calls to his colleagues to come to his aid. He said the senior police officer in the team ordered his men to arrest the soldier. According to him, during the attempt to arrest him, he put up a stiff resistance and the police beat him until he collapsed.
We gathered that after the soldier had collapsed, the policemen revived him by pouring water on him.
The source said it was in the process of reviving him that an Army Colonel drove to the scene and arrested the soldier. Another witness, a driver at the Obanikoro motorpark who spoke on condition of anonymity said that few minutes after the soldier was taken away by his superior, other colleagues stormed the scene on a reprisal attack. He said as soon as the task force men sighted the soldiers, they fled, while others took to their heels. He said the soldiers who were not happy that the police and LASTMA officials escaped their wrath barricaded the road and were searching for either policemen and LASTMA officials to vent their spleen on.
However, it took the quick intervention of the Brigade Commander, 9th Brigade, Nigerian Army, Ikeja, Brig. Gen. Sanusi Muazu, who arrived at the venue to calm the soldiers. Gen. Muazu, who described the skirmishes as unfortunate, said the Army was on top of the situation. He said the soldier who used the BRT lane had been arrested and that disciplinary action would be taken against him.
He decried the behaviour of the soldier, who took over the restricted BRT warning others to desist from disobeying the rules and regulations, stressing that no one is above the law. As at press time, uneasy calm still pervaded the area as residents and shop owners have shut down for the day. The popular Obanikoro taxi park was deserted by drivers and passengers for fear of possible return of soldiers, who had vowed to deal with the attackers of their colleague.
A similar incident occurred on Tuesday when bloodshed was averted at the same sport. About 15 vehicles were seized during an operation led by the task force chairman, Mr. Bayo Sulaimon, a Superintendent of Police. According to the source, most of the violators were members of the Armed Forces and para-military agencies. (Daily Sun)