*Policemen chasing erring motorcyclist caused it — Eyewitnesses
BY EVELYN USMAN, ONOZURE DANIA & IJEOMA NATHANIEL
LAGOS — Tragedy struck, yesterday, along the Agege Motor Road, Ikeja, Lagos, after a container fell off a truck and landed on an Eko meat van. An unsuspecting male passer-by identified as a manager in Slot Electronics company, was reportedly crushed to death by the truck.
Several persons reportedly sustained varying degrees of injuries while motorists going inward and outward Oshodi went through the most harrowing experience as they were trapped for seven hours in the resultant gridlock.
Vanguard gathered that the accident occurred following attempt by driver of the truck with number plate AKD 964 XB to avoid ramming into a motorcyclist who was reportedly being chased by policemen attached to the Rapid Response Squad, RRS.
“The RRS men are stationed along the Agege Motor road to effect the Lagos State traffic law on the ban of motorcyclists along the expressway. This particular motorcyclist decided to drive against traffic on noticing the RRS men on the other side of the road. But when they sighted him, they gegan to chase him. In the process, the Okada man decided to make a U-turn. Just at that point, the truck with a 20-footer container swerved to avoid crushing the motorcyclist, only for the container to fall off and land on the Eko Meat van. Motorists who stopped tried to lift the container to rescue the occupants, but could not,” an eye witness who identified himself as Moshood Balogun said.
Another version by some occupants of the Eko Meat van who escaped death by the whiskers had it that the policemen caught up with the fleeing motorcyclist and at the same time blocked the way with their van, apparently to prevent the commercial motorcyclist from escaping.
Explaining how the incident occurred, one of the survivors, Taiwo Rauf, a meat supplier, said: “We were four inside the van. Two persons were sitting beside the driver while I sat behind. I used the van to supply meat at Oshodi from abattoir at Agege. We had already supplied the first batch and we were heading back to Agege for another round.
“While we were on our way, we saw a commercial motorcyclist riding against traffic with a female passenger. When the rider saw that the police were approaching, he turned to escape but the policemen caught up with him. Another police van emerged and parked beside the first one.
“Our van which was coming from behind had no space to go forward, so we had to wait. At that point, the truck which was coming behind us was blaring its horn and an occupant, inside was shouting at the top of his voice ‘no brake.’
“Before we knew what was happening, the truck hit our van and at the same time swerved to the culvert, only to crush a man to death. The driver of meat van was injured and was immediately rushed to the hospital by sympathizers. I can’t tell how I managed to come out of the van.”
Immediately the incident occurred, report said angry mob attempted to attack the policemen who they blamed for the cause. But they were reportedly dispersed by tear gas canisters from the policemen.
The deceased, identified simply as Belle, was said to be a manager in Slot electronics company.
A male sympathizer who screamed after the deceased was brought out under the trailer identified him as a manager in Slot.
Attempt by policemen from divisions under Area ‘F’, Ikeja to control the traffic failed as the wreckage of the meat van and container blocked the road.
After two hours of waiting, a super metro van was reportedly brought to lift the container and meat van from the road but could not. A crane was later brought by officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA. But its arrival reportedly worsen the traffic situation as it was stretched from both ends of the dual carriage road,thereby blocking the alternative access way.
The evacuation of the container was eventually completed at about 4.30pm.
Commuters, had to trek long distances before boarding commercial buses to their respective destinations. But motorists who were trapped in the gridlock had no option than to wait till the evacuation process was copmpleted.
Spokesman for LASTMA, Mrs Bola Ajao, when contacted, said LASTMA officials were on ground to control the traffic situation.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Mr Tunde Shobulon, who visited the scene, reportedly claimed the meat van apparently drove against traffic, saying he was oblivious of the alleged involvement of policemen in the accident.