By Bose Adebayo
TheirÂ wine and butter coloured uniform has become so well known that they are not easily mistaken at the various bus-stops and traffic-prone spots where they are deployed to ensure there is a free flow of traffic.
And since their inception, some of them have been quite outstanding through exemplary performance of the duties of traffic control and maintaining orderliness on the road. The same, however, cannot be said of some few bad eggs among them who have only excelled at extorting money from both erring and innocent motorists.
These are officials of Lagos State Transport and Management Authority, LASTMA. The body presently is yet to secure approval to carry arms but some of its officials seem to have resorted to self-help by arming themselves with charms as a means of protecting themselves. The most common of these charms is said to be a kind of spiritual ring which confers maximum protection on the wearer and also enables him to overpower an opponent in the event of a scuffle.
Vanguard Metro was informedÂ ofÂ two recent but separate incidents where a motorist and a motorcyclist died after being hit on the chestÂ byÂ LASTMA officials allegedly wearing these spiritual rings.
One of the victims, a motorcyclist Chidi Oformata,Â met his untimely death in February 2010 at Oke-Afa, near the General Hospital, Isolo. He was said to be conveying one Okoro Humphrey of No 12, Moriamo Sanni Street, Ijegun Road to the Ladipo market when some LASTMA officials attached to Ejigbo division allegedly flagged him down before a quarrel ensued. One of them was said to have struck Oformata on the chest three times with a spiritual ring and he died on the spot. The passenger later gave their names as Danku Junaid, Lawal L.A, Gani, Oyekan and Jimoh Musa when he reported the incident to the Police.
The second victim, 50 years old Benjamin Igbokwe, a commercial bus driverÂ met his untimely death last Tuesday after a scuffle with one Adesina, a LASTMA official. Igbokwe said to have been struck on the chest with a spiritual ring the LASTMA official was wearing on a left finger following a disagreement which resulted into a fight. The tragic incident happenedÂ at Jakande Gate, Oke-Afa at around 8.30 pm that fateful day as the deceased was driving his commercial bus with number plate XB300JJJ from Ikotun to an undisclosed destination. An angry mob which was drawn to the scene, including the passengers in the bus, immediately beat Adesina to stupor before he was rushed to the General Hospital, Isolo.
As at now, Igbokweâ€™s widow, Mary, a teacher with Emmanuel Nursery and Primary School and a part time student with Adeniran Okusanya College of Education and her seven children, Miracle, 18; Chison, 16; Victory, 14; Dorcas and Ruth, 10 and Prince 8, have been left to mourn their bread winner with a tough and bleak future staring them in the face.
Eighteen years old Miracle Igbokwe who witnessed his fatherâ€™sÂ death narrated to Vanguard Metro how their bread winner lost his life on that fateful day.
In an emotion-laden voice, he said: â€œWe took off from Ikotun and the LASTMA man was standing by the Ejigbo office where he flagged us down because we did not close the door. He pursued us to Jakande Gate and asked my father to come down from the bus. Before my father could offer any explanation, Adesina used a golden ring on his left finger to punch my father on the chest and my father collapsed and died on the spot. Both of them were later carried to the General Hospital, Isoloâ€.
On Police involvement and response so far he said:Â â€œI reported the incident at Ejigbo Division but there was a delay because I refused to offer bribe. I was referred to Frank Mba who asked the press to interview meâ€.
Continuing he said: â€œMy fatherÂ wasÂ 35 years old and he was our bread winner. We are three boys and four girls, while my mother is a teacher at a nursery school. We now live at peopleâ€™s mercy since the tragic death of my father. My mother earns only N6,000 per month and we cannot survive on this.Â Nigerians should please come to our rescueâ€.
A source at the hospital informed this reporter that Adesina is at the emergency ward of the hospital but was yet to regain consciousness.
When Vanguard Metro visited Jakande Gate last week, most of those spoken to were unsparing in describing Adesina as an undesirable element in the Oke-Afa Ejigbo area. They advised the Police to ensure he does not go scotfree. â€œIt serves him right, he has been terrorising motorists in this area. If Sina arrests you, nobody can beg him. He hit that driver with charm and the man fell down and died.Â If the government could not discipline erring officials, God is there to intervene,â€ said Amoo Rashidi and Mudasiru Adewale.