Pandemonium broke out in the Iyana-Ipaja area of Alimosho in Lagos State on Wednesday as motorcyclists and the police clashed over the ban and restriction on the activities of motorcycle riders in some parts of the state.
An SS 2 pupil, Mariam Shobukola, was said to have been shot during the clash, which started around 10am.
While a patrol van belonging to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority was set ablaze at the Iyana-Ipaja roundabout, a police utility vehicle was vandalised at Alaguntan. A motorbike belonging to the police was also damaged.
The whereabouts of the driver of the burnt LASTMA van was unknown as several residents and policemen sustained varying degrees of injury.
Our correspondents, who visited the scene, gathered that the motorcyclists had started a protest before the police were deployed in the scene to disperse them.
PUNCH Metro gathered that among the grouses of the protesters was that some overzealous officials seized motorcycles on roads not affected by the ban.
The police were reported to have shot tear gas canisters into the crowd and live bullets in the air.
The protesters, who were later joined by hoodlums, retaliated with stones and bottles.
A stray bullet was said to have hit Mariam, a pupil of the DST School, Aboru, who was caught in the middle of the riot.
It was learnt that the shot pupil was taken to the Peak Health Hospital, Aboru.
A doctor at the hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity, identified the victim as a 16-year-old secondary school pupil.
“She was hit in the buttocks by a bullet. She woke up at our hospital. We referred her to the General Hospital, Ile-Epo, for further treatment. The police have also been here,” the doctor added.
Eyewitnesses told PUNCH Metro that the protest turned violent when the police arrived at the scene and chased the demonstrators.
An eyewitness, who identified himself only as Eze, said some people were injured in the melee that followed, as many ran helter-skelter.
He added that some hoodlums used the opportunity to dispossess passers-by of their belongings.
He stated, “There was confusion everywhere. We all ran for dear life. The okada people did not carry guns, sticks or bottles; they were only protesting the ban on motorcycles in some parts of Lagos State and the major roads.
“But when the police arrived, they started shooting. It was from there that the area boys and some other okada riders started hurling stones and bottles at the police vehicles and the policemen.
“The first set of policemen who came retreated and called for reinforcement.”
A motorcyclist, James Edikan, insisted that they were only registering their displeasure at the ban, saying the police aggravated the situation by opening fire on the crowd.
“The police aimed their guns at us. Many of us are lucky to be alive,” he added.
PUNCH Metro observed that many passengers going to Aboru from Iyana-Ipaja were forced to trek long distances, as motorcyclists had deserted the road.
Several hours after the riot, many shops on Ipaja Road remained closed.
The roads were also littered with the remnants of the bonfires made by the protesters.
Around 2.30pm, one of our correspondents saw the police driving out of Iyana-Ipaja in eight trucks loaded with motorcycles and some suspects.
A government official, who asked not to be identified, said all the LASTMA officials in the area had been withdrawn for security reasons.
He claimed that the protesters first attacked the men of the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit.
He said, “The motorcyclists mobilised from the Moshalashi roundabout to protest. The task force personnel also arrived about the same time to enforce the ban on okada and tricycles.
“The protesters immediately launched an attack on the team. The policemen shot to disperse them.
“A LASTMA vehicle, which was at the Iyana-Ipaja roundabout, was attacked. The driver tried to escape with the vehicle, but he was overpowered and beaten. They snatched the vehicle from him and set it ablaze.
“All the LASTMA officials in that area have been withdrawn, up to Agege and Capitol Road.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said the riot started after the task force team impounded 86 motorcycles.
He stated that there was no record of death as a result of the incident.
Elkana said, “On February 5, 2020, around 10.20am, the Lagos State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences and some police officers carried out enforcement on the restriction of motorcycles and tricycles in the Aboru area, where 86 motorcycles were impounded.
“The riders of the impounded motorcycles and thugs in large numbers advanced to Iyana-Ipaja and attacked police officers on duty at the Iyana-Ipaja roundabout, Alaguntan junction and the Aboru junction.
“One Inspector Salifu Umar was injured by the hoodlums, but no life was lost. The injured inspector was rushed to hospital and he is responding to treatment.
“One LASTMA vehicle and two Neighbourhood Watch patrol bicycles were burnt by the hoodlums. The windscreen of a police patrol vehicle was also smashed.
“Reinforcement was sent to the affected areas by the command headquarters and the situation was brought under control.”
The police spokesman added that 34 suspects had been arrested for their roles in the incident, adding that the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, condemned the attack on officers carrying out their lawful duties.
He said the CP vowed that the perpetrators, would face the full weight of the law.
The General Manager of LASTMA, Olajide Oduyoye, was said to be in a meeting and could not react to the incident when one of our correspondents contacted him.