By Oji Odu
Is it news that Policemen beat up officials of the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA) discharging their duties? No. Are Lagosians/Nigerians shocked by the news? No. Are they alarmed? No. But are they happy by the disturbing incident whose repetition has continued on yearly basis been the shame of the Nigerian nation? They are divided.
In a chat with the Magazine, Bode Adenike, a commercial bus driver did not express surprise, but joy that it happened. “ My Oga, many people in Lagos are happy whenever either Police or Army, Navy or Air Force officers beat up LASTMA officers.
“ You need to experience the type of brutality these LASTMA officials carry out on people who fall into their trap and who they deceive and lure into those traps. They are criminal in brutalising drivers and destroying their vehicles, because you don’t get your vehicle in one piece after any LASTMA arrest,” he said.
For Olabisi Ogunkoya, the LASTMA officials got what they are use to giving innocent Lagosians, especially before the Governor Ambode forced reforms of the agency. “ Whatever you sow is what you reap. Unfortunately for them, power pass power. Police power pass LASTMA power.
“ It is a vicious circle not only in Lagos State but in Nigeria. If LASTMA is not brutalising the people, Police is doing so to LASTMA, as the military lord it over the police,” she said.
Wednesday, September, 19, 2018,confusion broke out at the Idiroko end of Ikorodu Road, Lagos State, when two police officer attached to a bank in the area reportedly unleashed terror on the LASTMA officers after they arrested a mobile policeman who contravened traffic law. The Policeman who was in a KIA vehicle with number plate, GW 113 AAA, allegedly drove through the reserved lane meant for the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT).
To ensure that the erring police officer face the consequent of his action, the LASTMA officers had in their usual way, entered his car and seized his car keys, an action which his colleagues attached to the bank saw as insulting. They allegedly attacked the LASTMA officers and vandalized their vehicle.
According to an eyewitness who revealed the the Mobile Police had caused a huge traffic on the BRT lane while resisting arrest: “The incident happened around 9.30am. The motorist wore a police shirt which had mopol on it. He was coming from Maryland en route to Anthony and took the BRT lane. He was blocked by a LASTMA vehicle at Idi iroko.
“The man refused to drive out of the lane after a LASTMA officer entered his car. Before we knew it, two other policemen crossed over from a First Bank branch opposite the scene. They beat up the LASTMA officials and demanded the key of the man’s car.
“When they did not get the key, they attacked every LASTMA officer in sight until they got the key. They broke the glass of the LASTMA KIA that was used to block the car with the butt of their guns.
“After they succeeded, they opened the LASTMA car and pushed it to the expressway. The mopol then escaped, while they ran back to their duty post.”
The Magazine learnt that two hoodlums who were happy at the incident joined in aiding the escape of the policeman. However, they were arrested and arraigned before a mobile court. The men were reportedly remanded in prison.
Although Lagos State Police Command Spokesman, CSP Chike Oti, while speaking to newsmen stated that the Commissioner of Police in the state, Edgal Imohimi had ordered an investigation into the incident, he stated that there was no report of such incident at any of the stations.
“….. The information we got was that the matter was not reported because the men settled their differences amicably.
“However, the CP, who does not tolerate acts of indiscipline, has ordered an investigation into the incident, especially the video being circulated online. He has ordered that the policemen identified in the video be brought for questioning.” he said.
But the Public Affairs Officer of LASTMA, Mahmud Hassan, expressed much disappointment and regret in the conduct of the policemen.
“We are disappointed that men trained to enforce the law of the state are the ones circumventing the law and turning around to beat those they should be supporting. It is a low point for those involved. I don’t know how they would be proud of their action. They should look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they have lived up to the expectation of their profession.
“While we will continue to count on the support and cooperation of the police hierarchy, the action of those officers has done a great damage; it happened in the full glare of the public on the busy Ikorodu Road.”
He said that the injured Policemen are receiving treatment at a hospital which he did not disclose.
Charles Okeke, a political analyst would rather see the incident as a mirror of life in Nigeria. To him, Nigerian has become a jungle whether we like it or not. “ Might is right. It is not only seen in the face-off between those meant to protect and defend the people and the Nigerian nation, it is evident in the way our leaders relate with the led Nigerian masses.
“ Many rich and highly connected are seen to be above the law. They commit offences and go scot free. They can even kill fellow Nigerians and be acquitted of murder “for lack of evidence,” he said, adding that people should not be surprised that the case has already been swept under the carpet. His is however concerned that Nigeria is yet to nip this issue in the bud.