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By Esther Onyegbula

Tragedy struck, yesterday, at Ojodu Grammar School Bus Stop on Ogba-Ojodu Berger Road, Lagos, when a delivery van allegedly chased by officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, rammed into school children returning from school, causing the death of no fewer than 17 students and left many injured.

Vanguard learned that an angry mob, which blamed the Police and LASTMA officials for the accident, had attempted to lynch policemen and LASTMA officials within the vicinity.

It was also gathered that the delivery van was set on fire at Ogba area of the state by a mob that caught up with the driver. But the driver was saved by the police, as he was almost lynched.

Vanguard learned that the school children, all of Ojodu Berger Grammar School, were returning from school when the driver of the delivery van, said to have lost control while attempting to escape from LASTMA officials, rammed into them.

At the scene, no fewer than 14 victims were rescued and immediately taken to Lagos State Emergency Centre, Ojota by first responders while parents of the victims were said to have broken down in tears on seeing the corpses of their children before they were moved to the mortuary.

According to an eye witness, who simply identified herself as Cynthia, “Immediately the accident happened, the delivery van driver ran away but I gathered that he was caught at Ogba area of the state, close to Excellence Hotel, where it was set ablaze by irate commuters.

“The sight where the children were crushed was something else. The accident happened immediately the school opened its gate after they closed for the day. I am not sure of the number, but before I left the scene, 17 school children were confirmed dead.”

Confirming the incident, spokesperson, Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Adekunle Ajisebutu, said the driver had been arrested.

He said: “The erring driver is in Police custody. About eight injured victims have been taken to the  hospital.

“Details on the number of deaths still sketchy. Students in reacted,  attacked the Ojodu Police Station wanting to carry out jungle justice on the arrested suspect. In the process, the rampaging students destroyed some vehicles parked at the Police Station.

“The students and hoodlums who joined them were dispersed professionally. However, normalcy has been restored. Investigation into the fatal motor/pedestrians accident has since commenced.”

Meanwhile, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA while reacting to the incident, in a statement, said: “The agency received a distress call at 2:56 p.m., about a truck accident at Ogunusi Road, Grammar School Bus-stop, Ojodu Berger.

“However, the information gathered from LASTMA and NPF officials at the scene revealed that an unidentified truck lost control and rammed into students returning from school.  The incident led to severe injuries to some victims, others were discovered dead.

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“This unfortunate incident provoked some bystanders into taking laws into their hands by attempting to lynch NPF, LASTMA officials and other first responders at the scene, destroying vehicles and other property.

“The number of fatalities and casualties could not be ascertained as at the time of reporting.  The attack by the miscreants led the Emergency Team to head back to base as the scene was insecure and unsafe for rescue and recovery operations.”

An earlier statement by LASAMA had said some police and LASTMA officers within the vicinity were lynched.

Meanwhile, Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, has denied involvement of any of its official in the crash.

No  LASTMA officer lynched — PRO

Also,, LASTMA Public Relations Officer, Mr. Olumide Filade, said none of its officer was lynched in the incident.

“From reports reaching me, apart from officers that were at their different check points managing traffic, other officers on patrol had returned to the removal yard.

“No LASTMA officer was within the vicinity of the incident. Recall that even the police station beside the school was vandalised.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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