…As transport union, Okada riders clash
By Bose Adelaja, Esther Onyegbula & Nimat Otori
Pandemonium broke out, yesterday, at Iyana Iba bus/stop along the Mile Two/Badagry expressway, Lagos, following a violent clash between members of the transport union and commercial motorcyclists, over an increase in toll collection.
A yet-to-be-identified person was reportedly killed while scores of others were injured during the fracas that put commercial activities in the ever-busy area at a standstill for the better part of the day.
Some commercial buses were also burnt while shops were looted by hoodlums who hijacked the situation.
Vanguard gathered that trouble started following a hike in the daily toll collected by members of the union. The commercial motorcyclists, as gathered, were informed of plans to increase the daily toll last week but they were said to have kicked against the idea, on the ground that the road was bad and that business was not as it used to be.
However, yesterday, one of the riders, who was accosted by a union member, was said to have offered N100, which was turned down, as he was asked to pay N200.
A heated argument between the duo degenerated into a fight, during which the rider was overpowered. His colleagues reportedly came to his rescue and inflicted injuries on the union members.
The fight was said to have escalated to Volks, Okoko and Alaba Rago areas along the expressway as commercial motorcyclists descended on any union member on sight. Some of the motorcyclists, who tried to escape from the scene, were attacked by those loyal to the union.
News filtered around that the fight was between Yoruba and Hausa ethnic groups, which escalated the fight as members of the ethnic groups descended on each other around Alaba Rago, displaying dangerous objects such as cutlasses and knives.
A motorcyclist, who simply identified himself as Abass, told Vanguard: “I had gone to drop a passenger at Iyana Iba and was almost trapped in the fight. Immediately the passenger alighted at the express road leading into Iyana Iba, people were shouting, ‘turn back, turn back. I thought they were policemen, who came to raid until one of my colleagues said it was a fight between our members and agbero.
“All the time, they increase the toll. The annoying part is that they collect N100 at each bus stop for the same ticket, in the morning and evening. At times, we pay as much as N1,000 a day to agberos. Aside from that, we still need to deliver to the owner of the motorcycle before we talk of eating, buying fuel and providing for our families. If we don’t pay, they would stop us from plying the route or seize our bikes.”
A commercial bus driver, Charles Ogene, said “ The fight started around 7 am, stopped and continued around 9.30 am. Most of us going to Agbara had to drive through Alaba International road to avoid being injured by the warring parties.”
Situation hijacked by hoodlums
Vanguard gathered that street urchins hijacked the situation by attacking and dispossessing innocent road users of their valuables. Traders hurriedly locked up for the day and fled for their lives on sighting armed miscreants approaching. Some of them left their shops at the mercy of hoodlums.
The presence of policemen prevented the fight from escalating further.
The spokesman for Lagos State Police Command, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, described as untrue report that filtered round earlier, that the fight had ethnic colouration.
The Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, according to him, “has ordered for immediate deployment of additional police personnel to the area to maintain law and order. He also directed the Area Commander, Area ‘E ‘Festac, to personally be on the ground to monitor the situation and invite the leaders of the affected Okada riders unit for an urgent meeting.
“The Command wishes to debunk the rumour that the disagreement, not violence as being peddled in the social media, was between some ethnic groups. Without mincing words, the incident has no ethnic colouration whatsoever.”
At 5.30 pm, a Police Armoured Personnel Carrier was seen stationed at Iyana Iba junction while patrol vehicles were combing other affected areas.