….Police van vandalised
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
TRAFFIC may worsen in the coming weeks, as operators and stakeholders in Apapa Ports are currently living in fear, following violent attack on men of the Presidential Task Team on Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa by suspected miscreants, during an operation.
The incident, it was gathered happened at the weekend around Second Gate, TinCan Island Port, Apapa.
However, eyewitnesses have debunked claims by some groups that a person died as a result of gunshot during the clash, which left operational van of the leader of the task team, destroyed.
The victim was simply identified as Adamu, a truck driver.
It was gathered that the corpse of the truck driver, which was later placed on the vandalised police patrol vehicle in the night, disappeared the following day without any trace till press time.
It was not too clear how the deceased person was shot dead, but an eyewitness informed that some of the aggrieved truck drivers had accused the Policemen of partiality in the discharge of their operations.
However, there were conflicting reports over the cause of the incident. While a version claimed extortion, others claimed enforcement of traffic decongestion.
According to reports, the attackers were protesting the brazen extortion of truck drivers on endless queue along major connecting roads inward Apapa, Lagos, allegedly being perpetrated by Policemen operating in the area.
Several attempts to get the reaction of the Command Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Superintendent of Police, SP, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, on the incident was not successful, but a source close to his office, who confirmed it, said the Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, had been fully briefed, adding “the CP is aware of that matter and I think it is being handled.”
Presidential task team’s rule of engagement
Sequel to the latest incident, Vanguard gathered that the Nigeria Port Authority, NPA, in a letter, through the Office of Director, Marine and Operations, Mr. Onari Brown, addressed to Chief Operating Officer, MOB integrated Services, dated August 6, 2020,:titled: RE: Closure of Access Road to Tincan Island Port, Apapa, stated clearly responsibility of the Presidential task team in maintenance of traffic in the port area and environs.
The letter read in part: “We refer in your letter dated 19th, July, 2020. The Presidential task team and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, have the responsibility to maintain law and order ensuring free flow of traffic on every road in Apapa, including the ports.
“The personnel of NPA Tincan Island port have responsibility to ensure roads to the ports are free of gridlock.
“The ongoing road construction by Hitech company has resulted in blockage of Tincan, Coconut axes, leaving only the service lane for trucks admission into Tincan Island Port for the past two months, hence, no truck has been allowed to exit the corridor.
“In the same vein, traffic flow via the Apapa-Liverpool Creek Road axis is now restricted to a lane.It is expedient to sensitise your members to corporate in ensuring this arrangement succeeds to aid operations and the elimination of traffic congestion within the ports and environs.”
Company petition Lagos CP
Meanwhile, in response to the clash, Management of Kenneth Logistics Limited, one of the port operators in the axis, had petitioned Lagos CP, on the need to investigate the incident and take appropriate action to prevent another occurrence.
Ganiyu, in the petition dated November 20, 2020 and copied Deputy Inspector General of police, DIG, Zone 2, called for full investigation into violent activities orchestrated by a popular gang terrorising the Apapa axis.
The petition read in part: “It’s unfortunate that the efforts to ensure a smooth flow of traffic in Mile-2 Tincan Island, Apapa axis of the state is been hindered by people who should ordinarily join hands with the task team set up by FG to restore sanity on road in Apapa.
“As truck manager, i truly appreciate the effort of task team to assist truckers in getting access to the ports and make the environment conducive for users.
“Unfortunately, movement in and out of the ports has been on standstill for about a week thereby preventing us from doing our legitimate business.’
“Amid effort by taskteam to clear the road and stop truckers who were entering the port through illegal means, a group of people led by the gang’s leader (Names withheld) stormed the road at Tincan Island Port, Apapa on Thursday around 5.30 pm after the road had been cleared by task team.
“While on their way back to Mile-2 after the exercise the team was accosted by the gang and subsequently attacked with bottles and other dangerous weapons to the extent of attempting to burn the police van used for monitoring. The van was vandalised beyond repairs in the process. They also, attempted to lynch officials of task team.’’
An eyewitness, Ajose Abdulazeez, a port operator, said: “The trouble started when men of Presidential Task team, led by Supol Femi, arrived at Second Gate to clear traffic, based on invitation of the NPA as the area had been grounded for days due to activities of truckers.
“As usual, in no time, the Presidential task team restored sanity and ensured movement of traffic in the area.
“Having restored normalcy, the team was returning to base when they were accosted by a group of people, popularly called touts, challenging the operation of the task team, claiming it is their territory and the task team should keep off.
“While Supol Femi was appealing to the leader of the group, called Tao, to allow decorum and free flow of traffic in the area, suddenly, other members of the gang started throwing bottles and pebbles at the team.
“In the ensuing melee, everyone ran in different directions for dear lives. Good enough, the task team maintained calm without releasing any tear gas or gun shots into the air.
“The gang attempted to burn the police van but failed. In an attempt to escape from the crisis zone the van was stranded because trucks blocked the only exit point. The team had to abandon the van to avoid being lynched by the rampaging miscreants.”
Ismail Oyetunji, a trucker at Tincan Island Park, who also witnessed the incident commended the way the task team handled the case, saying “ it could have been bloody if the task team had reacted to the provocation put up by the miscreants.”
When contacted, Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, comrade Kayode Opeifa, said, “the Commissioner of Police is already handling the case with the view to ensure justice is done.”