By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Overzealous Policemen, Tuesday, allegedly manhandled, harassed and handcuffed an officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Odugbemi Eyitayo, in Yaba area of the state over enforcement of traffic offence.
The incident drew the ire of eyewitnesses, whose intervention to save the LASTMA officer from further harassment was rebuffed as the LASTMA officer was taken to the Sabo Police Station in handcuffs.
There had been a series of attacks on LASTMA officers in the line of duties in recent times with few officers killed in the process.
One of the eyewitnesses, who simply identified himself as James, said he saw LASTMA officers trying to arrest a car that was driving on the Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, corridor inward Yaba.
“Everybody saw the vehicle driving through the BRT lane and the LASTMA officers trying to arrest the car, which led to a serious confrontation between the car driver and the leader of the patrol. The driver was seen hitting the officer seriously with a blow that blood started coming out of the officer’s mouth and people were watching the drama as it unfolded.
“The struggle between the car driver, who was later discovered to be a police officer, trying to handcuff the LASTMA officer was a serious show and some spirited citizens intervened, blamed the car driver for his rude behaviour against the officers, knowing full well that he had committed an offence, he should have pleaded with the LASTMA officers to settle the matter rather than blowing hot.
“As people were pleading with him (the driver) he left the spot and walked up to some police officers standing some metres away. We did not know what he told the police officers, as they came back to the spot where the LASTMA officers were. The policemen bounced on the leader of the LASTMA officers, beat, handcuffed, and took him away to Sabo Police Station.
“As the driver and some of the police officers he called went away with the LASTMA officer to Sabo Police Station with the police patrol vehicle, some of the police officers were asked to stay behind with the vehicle.
“Suddenly, another set of police officers and LASTMA officers came to the scene, which led to serious argument and exchange of words between the police themselves, saying the police officers shouldn’t have beaten and handcuffed the LASTMA officer, who were doing their duty.
“And with the assistant of the people and the police, the LASTMA officers remaining at the scene towed the vehicle away before the driver and the police that took the LASTMA officer away could come back.”
LASTMA boss reacts
Meanwhile, LASTMA General Manager, Bolaji Oreagba, who confirmed the incident, condemned the act he described as “unfortunate.”
According to him, the impounded car of the suspect is currently at the LASTMA yard pending trial of the matter in a magistrate’s court soon.