By Christopher Oji, Lagos
There was pandemonium on Monday at the Ile-Epo area of Agbado, in Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area of Lagos, as commercial motorcycle operators (“Okada” riders) clashed with police.
In a separate development, hoodlums attempted to set ablaze the newly built Elemoro police station which accommodates the Area J Command, Ajah and Elemoro Division of the Command, in connection with a case of a fatal accident recorded in the area on Monday.
On the Ile-Epo crisis, policemen from Ile-Epo police station were enforcing the order against Okada riders plying restricted routes, but they were resisted by the transporters.
It was gathered that during the enforcement, one of the policemen shot an Okada rider, which sparked the confrontation that led to Okada riders pelting the policemen with stones and attacking them with other dangerous weapons. The Okada riders were said to have attempted to torch the police station but were repelled by the police who called in einforcement from other divisions and the State Command Headquarters in Ikeja.
A witness, Joe Okondu, said the Okada riders in their hundreds took over the entire Lagos/Abeokuta Road, chanting war songs.
According to Okondu, ‘it was like a theatre of war. I was taking my wife to her shop when, all of a sudden, I started hearing gun sounds while people were running for cover. I saw Okada riders throwing stones at anyone at the site. My wife and I also abandoned our car as other motorists did. The development caused serious traffic along Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway.
‘Many people were seriously injured while some vehicles were torched. The Okada riders, who were mostly northerners, were using dangerous weapons to attack the police and passers-by. Many who were running for their lives got injured either by the stampede or by the stones. My wife fell down twice while she was running and she has a swollen eye,’ the witness said.
Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi said: ‘The Lagos State Police Command has tactically repelled some hoodlums who attempted to set ablaze the Oke Odo Division of the command today May 24 and 12 of them were arrested. The command wishes to state clearly that no live was lost and the police station was never burnt.
‘Similarly, the command has restored normalcy to Elemoro, where another set of hoodlums attempted to set ablaze the newly built police station which accommodates the Area J Command, Ajah and Elemoro Division of the Command, in connection with a case of fatal accident recorded in the area on Monday .
‘The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, has deployed adequate personnel to the areas. He has also ordered that the incidences at Oke Odo, Ile Epo and Elemoro be thoroughly investigated. The details of the incidences will be revealed as soon as possible.
‘The Commissioner of Police, therefore, appealed to the general public to remain calm and go about their lawful businesses as all hands are on deck to suppress any act of lawlessness and criminality in the state.’