Christopher Oji, Lagos
Three people were feared killed and several others injured as policemen and tricycle operators clashed in the Ijora area of Lagos. Commercial tricycle (Keke) and motorcycle operators (Okada) had taken to the streets protesting the ban by the Lagos State government on plying certain restricted routes.
The police accosted the protesters who made a bonfire on the road and they engaged themselves in a fight that left three persons dead while many others sustained injuries.
The victims included a student, a woman in an Ilorin bound vehicle, and a tricycle operator.
The police public relations officer, DSP Bala Elkana, denied the alleged shooting, saying no casualty was recorded.
Elkana said that policemen actually dispersed the protesters who, according to him, set up a bonfire and attacked innocent citizens.
But witnesses said the victims were hit by bullets as policemen attached to Badia division shot sporadically to scare the protesters.
Some tricycle operators and Okada riders had reportedly gathered at the Ijora causeway axis of Apapa road, setting up a bonfire to protest the restriction order by the state government on them.
The protesters were alleged to have vandalised some vehicles including that of a policeman.
Having been dispersed from the earlier spot, it was learnt that the protesters regrouped at the front of the secretariat of Apapa Iganmu LCDA along Gaskiya road, where they were also chased away by the cops.
Elkana said: “It was a violent protest because they attack innocent citizens and we can not fold our arms to watch them perpetrate evil attacks. I am not aware of any casualty. From the brief I have gotten so far, nobody was killed or injured.”
It was, however, gathered that the protest has escalated to Ajegunle area of the state as Keke and Okada riders prevented commercial vehicles from carrying out their duties.
An Okada rider, Val, said: “There is no work in the country. The only lucrative work is crime. But we decided to be useful to ourselves by picking Okada and Keke driving. Today, the government has denied us and our families a means of livelihood. Is the government telling us to go into crime? We won’t allow vehicle drivers to operate because, instead of them to be in solidarity with us, they are busy jubilating and carrying passengers.