By Monsuru Olowoopejo
Activities in Alimosho, Igando and Iyana-Iba axis were, yesterday, paralysed when hundreds of commercial drivers attacked officials of the Lagos Task Force within the axis over impoundments of buses.
The riot which started at about 11a.m., forced many commuters to trek long distance under the scorching sun to their different destinations, while those that couldn’t withstand the stress returned home.
The riot, Vanguard gathered, commenced when the Task force officials allegedly stormed Igando motorpark and impounded no fewer than 10 vehicles that queued to pick passengers.
It was gathered that the few drivers at the scene angered by the impoundments attacked the Task Force officials and demanded the release of the vehicles. But their efforts proved abortive as they were overpowered by military officers attached to the enforcement team.
Few minutes after, the drivers regrouped, stormed the taskforce Igando office with machetes and other weapons to release the impounded vehicles.
At the scene, our correspondent gathered that at least three people were injured including two officials, who tried to prevent the irate drivers from removing the already impounded vehicles from the premises.
After retrieving their vehicles, they barricaded Egbeda Bus stop, Igando along LASU-Isheri road and Iyana-Iba garage, informing other drivers of their action and asked that they discharge their passengers and join the riot.
At Iyana-Iba, the commercial drivers and some hoodlums were also seen vandalising vehicles, chanting ‘No More Task Force’ and commuters ran for safety.
A petty trader, Mrs. Ronke Adesanya, lamented that the riot affected commercial activities, saying, we cannot trade. All we saw was some drivers asking their colleagues to instruct passengers to alight from their vehicles.
At about 2pm, the riot had intensified with other drivers, who already had some issues with the task force officials, joined the protest to demand an end to the alleged persistent extortion.
Why we’re protesting—Drivers
A commercial driver, Chinedu Ogwu, told Vanguard that the reason for the demonstration was that the Taskforce officials have turned them into Automated Teller Machine, ATM, by extorting them daily.
“My brother, can you imagine; everyday, these officials will come to our garages and impound vehicles without reasons. After that, they slam N25,000 fines on you. When you ask them what is the reason for their action, they will not state.
“After paying for such, if you are lucky, your battery and other parts in your vehicle will be intact. But if not, you will have to start sourcing for another fund to buy them back. That is the challenges we are facing right now.
“This started January. But today, we realised that we have condoned them too much. And if we don’t demonstrate, the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, will not be aware of their shenanigan on Lagos roads,” he added.
Another driver, Tayo Oladele, told Vanguard that previously they patrol once monthly which was why we had condoned them.
“But lately, they come daily and impound vehicles for acts that were not included in the 2012 road traffic law. For instance, they will impound vehicles for allowing passenger to alight at existing bus stops. All these we cannot condone anymore.”
Enforcements continues until…—Task Force
Head, Public Affairs Unit, Lagos State Task Force, Adebayo Taofiq, in a statement made available to Vanguard, lamented that the agency officials were attacked and no fewer than three of their officials were injured.
He said: “You will recall that with the efforts of the government at making our environment more secured for the citizenry, the Agency last weekend during a mid-night raid arrested 62 miscreants and hoodlums around Oshodi area of the State.
“While some of these arrested miscreants and hoodlums with proper identifications were screened and released other were charged to court with the directive of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi.
“The court remanded the remaining hoodlums at Potoki Prison, Badagry, while other notorious miscreants at Oshodi mobilised their colleagues around Lasu-Iba road and Dopemu area to attack Task Force officials enroute Oshodi from Badagry prison.”
Aside the three injured at the Igando office, Adebayo hinted that another three officials were injured by the drivers during an attack on their agency vehicle, saying, they attacked our men with Cutlass, Stones, Iron-rods and broken-bottles.
“There is no responsive government that would allow hoodlums to rob and dispossess commuters of their valuables.
“They all came out with dangerous weapons chanting ‘No more Task Force,’ ‘No more RRS,’ ‘No more LASTMA’ and started attacking and robbing motorists including passengers around the area.
“We wish to state unequivocally that raiding of miscreants and hoodlums is a continuous exercise until either they turn a new leave or they migrate from the State.
“Also, motorists including commercial bus drivers are advised to comply with all traffic laws and regulations as contained inside the Lagos State Road Traffic Law of 2012.
…we’ve restored normalcy—Police
Confirming the riot, Police Public Relation Officer, PPRO, Chike Oti, in an interview with Vanguard, said that normalcy has returned to the axis.
“We were informed of the activities within the axis and our men responded swiftly. I can assure you that normalcy has returned. So residents can now continue with their lawful businesses.”