There was pandemonium yesterday at Costain Roundabout in Iponri, Lagos when some Danfodrivers clashed with Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA) officials to get their vehicle released.
The drivers alleged that a LASTMA official hit a commercial driver with a charm while trying to arrest him.
The drivers and some hoodlums blocked the Costain Roundabout, causing a traffic snarl.
An eye witness, Mr Kehinde Salami, said the LASTMA official stopped the commercial bus, adding: “The driver was dragging the steering wheel with the officials and one of them hit the driver with his hand, the driver fell down and started foaming from the mouth.
“The LASTMA officials took away the bus, leaving the man on the floor.
“While this was happening, a LASTMA patrol car 003, with registration number RT 503 LA, came onto the scene with two officials in it. The hoodlums’ pounced on them but the officials escaped.
“The vehicle was vandalized. they even attempted to set it ablaze if not for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses parked within the vicinity.’’
The bus conductor said LASTMA officials arrested their vehicle while the driver was attempting to pick passengers at Costain Roundabout.
According to him, the officials assaulted them until the driver fell down and fainted.
“As soon as he fell down, the LASTMA officials took away our bus,’’ he said.
The victim, it was learnt, was taken away in a tricycle with registration number KJA 409 QD to LASTMA Iponri office where a scuffle ensued.
The hoodlums retreated, following the arrival of police patrol teams which removed the vandalized LATSMA car to Iponri Police Station.
A Lagos State Emergency Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS) vehicle with registration number KSF 632 DR took the victim to the General Hospital on Lagos Island.
LASTMA Commander in Surulere Gbolahan Rasheed, who was in the vandalized car, said his vehicle ran into the hoodlums at about 9:20 am at Costain.
“We escaped by whiskers. I ran to Iponri Police Station to report, while the driver of the patrol car, Abalaya, was beaten seriously,’’ he said.
He said the driver, who allegedly fainted at the scene, suddenly started talking on getting to the hospital.
“The doctor called from the hospital to inform us that the driver had been discharged.
“That is why we arrested the conductor and one other, who claimed to be a brother to the driver. We want them to provide the driver,’’ Rasheed said
LASTMA Public Relations Officer Mahmud Hassan, in a statement, said a LT yellow commercial bus marked FST 290 XG was apprehended for illegal picking and dropping of passengers at Costain area.
The drivers, he said, in a bid to free an apprehended commercial vehicle at Costain attacked the Iponri office of LASTMA.
He said: “This was in gross violation of the Lagos State Traffic laws. The commercial bus was subsequently taken to the nearest yard of the agency at Iponri for booking accordingly and no life was lost in the process of enforcement. However, in a bid to circumvent the law and retrieve the vehicle from LASTMA yard, the driver resorted to self help by mobilizing friends and hoodlums who now attacked the Iponri office of the agency.
“This led to injury of personnel and damage of vehicles in the yard. However, when the driver’s action did not yield result, he stripped himself naked and created a scene in order draw the sympathy of unwary members of the public.
“However, when the act failed, his friends and hoodlums put him in a wheel barrow with a clear intention to cause commotion and complete breakdown of law and order. It was the timely arrival of men of Lagos State Environmental Task Force and LASAMBUS that restored law and order. Fortunately, two of the hoodlums were arrested and they are to be arraigned before the appropriate court at Alausa, while the main culprit escaped from the scene on sighting the arrival of law enforcement officers.”
LASTMA General Manager Bashir Braimah condemned the motorists’ action.
He said commercial drivers who violate traffic laws with the intention of using violence to free themselves would be dealt with.
He said no amount of violence would make the agency shy away from its duty.