By Simeon Mpamugoh
A chieftain of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) Prince Adeyinka Aroyewun has appealed to the Director, Department of State Security Services (DSS) Lagos State Command Mr. Kunle AJanaku to wield into threat to internal security and breach of public peace by a group referred to as armed bandits otherwise ‘community security,’ within Mile 2-Apapa Axis.
The appeal was in connection with yesterday’s attack on members of the association by operatives of the security outfit, which saw many of them beaten up and wounded, and vehicles damaged. “The event happened in the early hours of yesterday, one Mr. Leo and his colleague shot our drivers around Abuja Garage owned by one of our members in Tin Can. The Suspects were boys believed to be working as ‘cowboys’ to some officers attached to the Presidential Task Team on Apapa Gridlock, but no life was lost,” a witness said.
In a petition by his lawyer Balogun Adeniyi referenced P/03/DSS/202O and made available to Daily Sun he said, “Our Client wishes to call your attention to the following issues which he finds to be of national importance and wishes the prompt intervention of your office before it becomes a full blown security chaos.”
He noted in the petition that sometimes in May, 2019 President Muhammadu Buhari set up a Presidential Task Team on the Decongestion of Apapa Gridlock headed by Mr. Kayode Opeifa under the Office of the Vice-President of Nigeria. “The mandate of the team was to clear the gridlock in Apapa and its environs within two weeks. The President’s motive was simply to restore law and order in that part of Lagos. However, due to massive corruption and recklessness, the task team overstayed and continued to operate on the road beyond the timeframe of the President. It has operated for one year and six months.”
He claimed that as a result of highhandedness of the team, “our client and Concerned Elders in the Maritime Haulage Forum launched several advocacies for the disbanding of the team, instituting a fundamental rights enforcement action against it at the Federal High Court in the series of peaceful advocacy against the team.
“The Federal Government after run of meetings with stakeholders in the transportation sector and upon discovery of the excesses of the team withdrew its members on the decongestion of Apapa Gridlock from the road on October 10, 2020 and handed over the management of traffic to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).
“However due to the delay in the arrival of LASTMA to take over the road due to the nationwide ENDSARS protest, the task team he alleges “took advantage and quickly empowered a group of thugs most of whom earlier worked with them to take over the road in the guise of community security.”
He claimed upon noticing the antics and desperation of the task team to continue to man the Apapa Road either by proxy or antics, truck operators embarked on a one-day peaceful protest to express dismay on the continued presence of the team on the road, adding that the protest was successful and peaceful.
He argued that shortly after the peaceful protest, truck operators went about their normal businesses only for a group of armed men in black uniforms with the inscription “Community Security,” wielding several dangerous weapons to begin to attack truck drivers, motor boys, and any truck owners or users they saw. “They were heavily drugged, he alleged, inflicting severe injuries on several drivers and truck operators on the road and also destroying trucks worth millions of Naira. It was later discovered that the emergence of community security operatives was an antic of the ‘taskforce,’ to discredit the peaceful protest and paint a gory picture of violence. They also did it to enable them disrupt operations on the road and give an impression that the ease of the Apapa gridlock is unachievable without them,” he allegedly said.
He stated that the said “community security” empowered by the task team have now taken over Apapa-Mile 2 as the new policing outfit. “They are not incorporated under any law in Nigeria nor are they registered with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) who is saddled with the responsibility of registering security outfits.”
He urged the director of DSS to give the petition a priority and regard it as a whistleblowing of a high risk security challenge, as a stitch in time they say, saves nine. “Our client has received several threats from men of the ‘taskforce’ for his stance on their corrupt mode of operation. He is also being trailed by the operatives, he claimed, adding, “Our client not only fears for his life but for the lives of people living within the environment. We urge your office to investigate arrest and if possible prosecute the men behind this unlawful security outfit and their sponsors.”
Our reporter called the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command Mr. Bayo Sulaiman, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) who is also coordinator of the enforcement arm of the task team on his reaction; he said he was not competent to speak on the matter. Also called for his reaction was the vice chairman of the task team Mr. Kayode Opeifa- who has also been petitioned with a copy to the Lagos State Governor Mr. Sanwo Olu on recent development within the Mile 2-Tincan axis, but his two lines were switched off as at the time of press. #