Many people were injured and vehicles smashed when a group of street urchins known as area boys clashed with Hausa scavengers at the Ile -Epo axis, near Abule – Egba, on Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.
Motorists and their passengers were stranded as the fighters barricaded the road.
It was gathered that a Yoruba boy was carrying a bag on his head when he was mistakenly pushed by an Hausa scavenger who was passing along the same way with him.
The scavenger allegedly refused to apologise to the boy who got angry and engaged the him in a verbal abuse and there was a heated argument between the two which snowballed into a fight.
As the two got busy fighting, some street urchins joined in beating the scavenger, forcing other scavengers to join in the fight.
The fight later turned free for all.
The waring groups used dangerous weapons such as daggers, machetes, broken bottles, charms and stones to inflict injuries on themselves.
The fight forced those returning from the church and other road users to run for safety. The fighters blocked the roads, causing serious gridlock on the two sides of the expressway. Some hoodlums hijacked the situation and started robbing road users, including motorists. Many people sustained serious injuries while fleeing the scene.
Muyiwa Taju, told Daily Sun that he did not know that the fight which started as a minor argument could degenerate to ethnic crisis. “I was there when the argument started. We were trying to settle the quarrel when some area boys came and started beating the Hausa scavenger. Some scavengers also joined and started calling some of their brothers, telling them that Yoruba people were beating them up. Before we knew what was happening, Hausa people started arriving on motorcycles (okada) and the fight became serous.
“As we discovered that the fight has degenerated into ethnic crisis, we called in the police. Before the police would arrive, many people have been injured. One of my friends, Wasiu, who was separating the fight was stabbed in his head. He was rushed to the hospital.”
Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Bala Elkana, said five suspects had been arrested in connection with the clash at Oke Odo.
He said: “On August, 18, at about 10 :00am, Alhaji Adekunle Habib, of Ile -Epo market reported at Oke the Ode Police Station that there was a misunderstanding between a Hausa scavenger and an area boy from Yoruba ethnic group. The area boy was carrying some goods on his head and was pushed by the Hausa boy in error and the goods fell down. Arguments ensued between the two parties which led to an exchange of blows. Friends of the two parties joined in solidarity fight and other miscreants took advantage of the moment to steal and loot.
“They blocked Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway. What started as a fight between two miscreants almost snowballed into ethnic crises, if not for the timely intervention of the police. Police teams from Oke Odo division were the initial responders. The command sent reinforcements from the Operations Department, Rapid Response Squads, Taskforce, Tactical Units and Police Mobile Force. Divisions within the Area Command equally sent reinforcements. The situation was brought under control and traffic on the road cleared.
“No death was recorded, but four persons sustained various degrees of injuries and are receiving medical attention.
“Five suspects: Kabiru Mohammed, Kabiru Adamu, Bashiru Mohammed, Saliu Madu and Yusuf Amuda were arrested in connection with the breach of peace. Normalcy has been restored and patrols are ongoing in the affected areas. The suspects will be charged to court,” Elkana said.