By Emma Nnadozie
More facts have emerged on the circumstances that led to the brutal killing of the police officer in charge of operations at the Lagos state police command headquarters, Ikeja, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Kazeem Abonde, last Thursday, during a clash with commercial motorcyclists popularly called Okada at Ajao Estate, Lagos.
It was reliably learned that the team of heavily armed policemen from the department of operations at the command headquarters stormed the popular but notorious Okada riders park near Eleganza and Canoe areas and we’re busy implementing the state government restriction order on commercial motorcyclists when the bubble burst.
The riders were enraged by the constant raid and tried to resist police efforts to impound their bikes.
Some of them reportedly cleverly but dangerously manoeuvred their bikes out from the area while the unfortunate ones had to grapple with the police who were busy impounding bikes.
The situation, however, took a different dimension when those that escaped from the areas re-grouped and surged forward to confront the police.
They were reportedly advancing towards the police in their numbers armed with dangerous weapons which included; cudgels, sticks and stones.
They succeeded in chasing the armed policemen out from there and even continued the chase towards the main gate leading to the estate.
At this stage, it was learned that the police team led by CSP Abonde abandoned their patrol vehicle and disappeared in different directions.
Eyewitness account said CSP Abonde was busy making frantic efforts to calm the situation after his boys disappeared and the crowd succeeded in vandalizing their vehicle when a gun shot rang out from the surging crowd and hit him.
It was not possible to ascertain if the shot came from one of the fleeing officers or the irate crowd that had taken over the area but he reportedly fell down moaning in pain and crying out for help.
Luckily, some scared onlookers mustered the courage and assisted him towards a nearby hospital.
Crime Guard gathered that as they were nearing the gate to the street where the hospital is located, the irate okada riders, numbering over fifty rushed and intercepted them thereby forcing the helpers to flee for this safety.
They reportedly pounced on the wounded officer, smashed his head with large stones and cudgels and took his official pistol.
One of the witnesses told Crime Guard that the slain officer would have been saved if his colleagues had not fled from the scene and if a re-enforcement had swiftly arrived the scene.
According to the witness who did not want his name in print, the sympathetic crowd quickly came to rescue the officer after he was abandoned bleeding and calling for help which did not come from his armed colleagues.
We mustered courage in the face of the seeming danger to our lives, lifted and assisted him towards the nearest hospital by the side of the main gate to the street.
Nurses were already running out with a stretcher to help us and the wounded officer was thanking us profusely for saving his life when we saw those okada people with dangerous weapons rushing towards us.
We quickly took to our heels, abandoning the wounded officer. If we were armed, we would have resisted them and saved the life of the officer.
Forever, I will never forget the ferocity of their anger as they flagrantly descended on the wounded officer as he kept on pleading for mercy, with huge stones and other dangerous weapons were being smashed on his head.
Ooh my God, it will remain in my mind for long as the helpless officer yelled and yelled for help before taking his last breath as blood gushed out from his smashed skull.
As soon as they completed their evil mission, they continued their onslaught by terrorizing passers-by and motorists for hours.
Scores were wounded while others lost valuables. It was sad that the riders were allowed to operate leisurely for hours without police intervention while the decapitated body of their slain officer laid on the lone street.
However, an okada rider who operates at Canoe area where the ugly incident started told Crime Guard that they went on rampage because of Police penchant to extort money brazenly from them.
“They always besiege our park, impound our bikes and even arrest us until we cough out between N10-N20,000 to regain freedom.
“In most cases, they confiscate our bikes and end up disposing them through the back door, claiming that they had taken them to government house, Alausa. So, our anger is not misplaced because they have turned us into their cash cow.”
A resident of the Estate who witnessed the ugly encounter, Alhaji Baba Olajide lamented that okada riders have become a terrible menace in the estate.
“They have badly compounded the security situation in and around the estate to the extent that most of us are afraid of even strolling around.”
He particularly raised alarm over the clandestine operations of the riders by stating “ what shocked me was how they attacked and wounded the police officer. It is obvious that they have guns because the first shot that wounded the officer came from a gun.
“It is, therefore, obvious that some of them are armed and this must be the focus of security agencies if further brutal killings must be avoided. It should not just be enough impounding their bikes, go into their enclaves which we all know and carry out thorough searches in order to recover all the dangerous weapons in their possession. If this is not done urgently, we are all in trouble.”
A police officer told Crime Guard that the slain officer was “one of the finest officers in the command.”
According to him, he served as Divisional officer meritoriously in many stations in the state before heading B “Ops” at the command headquarters, Ikeja. He was also a lawyer and had concluded plans to retire in some months time and open a viable chamber. We will greatly miss him.
Meanwhile, fear has continued to grip residents of the estate especially those living around the notorious Canoe area where the incident started.
They are anticipating police raid and the attendant crisis that will follow as information filtering in revealed that the embattled okada riders have continued to swear that they will resist further chase from the police with the last blood in their veins.
Lagos has continued to provide haven for hundreds of thousands of Okada riders barred from operating in many other Nigerian cities.
Lagos State Government lacks the political will to do so in a capital they tag CITY OF EXCELLENCE. SHAME.