By Ebere Aham & Lucky Nwanekwu
LAGOS—Ten persons have been arrested in connection with the crisis that erupted Wednesday night between commercial motorcyclists and policemen in Ajao area of Lagos.
Unconfirmed report had it that two policemen were killed by rampaging hoodlums who hijacked the situation. But the Commissioner of Police, Mr Fatai Owoseni, stated that the command did not lose any of its men.
A Police Armoured Personnel Carrier, APC, stationed at Canoe bridge linking Ajao with Ejigbo was also allegedly burnt by the commercial motorcyclists, said to be protesting seizure of their bikes by officials of Lagos State Task Force.
Report had it that officials of the task force were out to enforce the restriction of commercial motorcyclists, popularly known as okada, around the axis.
However, on reaching Ilamose Estate at Oke-Afa, some okada operators reportedly made access into Ajao Estate difficult.
In the process, the officials were said to have impounded some of the motorbikes. However, some motorcyclists around Canoe who sighted them, concluded they were coming for them as well, an assumption that sparked off a violent protest yesterday.
When Vanguard arrived the scene, shattered windscreens littered everywhere, as well as charred remains of the police vehicle.
Some heady motorcyclists who resumed work yesterday morning, had their motorbikes seized by members of the task force. Some armed policemen and soldiers were sighted at the scene, while others were on vehicular patrol.
An eye witness who simply gave his name as Jola, described Wednesday night’s incident as theatre of was war.
Chairman of tricycle operators in Ajao Estate, Mr Ambimbola, said: ‘’This is not the first time we are experiencing such an incident. Such has happened before.
“But yesterday’s incident was a very bad occurrence . We believe that these people (Fulani men) are struggling to feed themselves but this does not give them the audacity to fight with policemen or even burn their vehicle.”
Police attack Vanguard’s reporter
Immediately after the interview, while one of Vanguard’s reporters, Lucky Nwanekwu, was taking shots of the scene, a policeman shoved him aside and battered him, asking why he was taking shots of the scene. All entreaties on the policeman who claimed to be from Area ‘D‘ Mushin Command, failed as two of his colleagues joined in beating the reporter.
Thereafter, they seized his mobile phone and whisked him away in their van, to Mushin. They attempted to throw him inside the cell, boasting that nobody could stop the move. It, however, took the intervention of a senior police officer who reprimanded them, for Nwanekwu who had blood shot eye and marks of violence on his chest and ribs, to be released.
At time of writing this report, he was being treated at Vanguard’s clinic.
However, an angry CP Owoseni, apologised on the excesses of his men , assuring that the command would look into the matter, with a view to finding out the circumstances that surrounded the attack on the reporter.