There was hefty pandemonium yesterday at Maryland area of Ikorodu Road, Lagos as street hawkers went berserk destroying vehicles and smashing BRT Buses in protest of the killing of one of them.
A moving Truck belonging to a Nigerian bottling company Plc. moving on a fast lane crushed the deceased hawker whose name was yet to be identified.
The deceased was running away from the officials of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) who were arresting street traders on the highway.
Many vehicles including Bus Rapid Transport (BRT), private vehicles and that of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos State Police Command.
An eye witness, Ebuka Izuegbune said: “At about 12.30 p.m., we were at the BRT bus-stop, waiting for bus when we saw KAI officials with some Policemen chasing street hawkers .The hawkers were running away for arrest and one of them was knocked down by a Truck.
“The man died instantly as his brain and intestines gushed out. His colleagues went on rampage, smashing vehicles, especially government owned vehicles. They smashed four BRT bus and that of Police vans.
“Some hoodlums hijacked the situation as they cashed in on the pandemonium and started robbing passersby quick intervention of men of RRS, led by their Commander, Tunji Disu, saved the situation. The Police wanted to remove the corpse, but they were prevented from doing so, until the RRS operative use tear gas to disperse the hoodlums and tool away the mangled body.
A senior Police Officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity said ” The KAI officials were doing their legitimate duty when the hawkers started running away, unfortunately, one of them ran into a moving vehicle and was crushed .The other hawkers went berserk and started destroying vehicles. When we got distress call, we wanted to remove the Corpse, because, that would have been the first and proper thing to do, but we were prevented from doing so. We called for more men and the RRS Commander came in full force and dispersed the hoodlums with tear gas. That was how we were able to remove the corpse, which has been deposited to the mortuary.
“We have arrested five persons in connection with the public disturbance. We have moved the damaged BRT to the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency Office (LATSMA). The Truck that crushed the victim is in our custody too”
A hawker, Ikechukwu Okoroafor said: “We are being treated like animals in Lagos. We have refused to go into crime, yet, they won’t let us be. How does the government want us to survive? We have not committed any crime but looking for our daily bread. Let the state government enforce the law on prohibition on commercial Motorcycle riders (Okada). The Okada riders on our express roads are all northerners, armed with dagger and other dangerous weapons. The Police are afraid of them, but the are after us because, we are arm less.
As at the time of filling this report, the Commander RRS, Tunji Disu and his operatives were on the ground making sure that the crises did not escalate to other areas in Lagos.
There was terrible Traffic gridlock and passengers were stranded as commercial bus driver avoided the route for the fear of their vehicles being destroyed by the rampaging hawkers.
Hawkers deserted the place for fear of possible arrest by the Police.
Lagos state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Dolapo Badmos, who confirmed the incident, said: “Official KAI were enforcing the order against street hawking and the hawker s were running away from arrest, and in the process, one of them was crushed by a moving vehicle .His colleagues went on rampage and started destroying vehicles. We quickly mobilized our men from Police division and RRS. Normalcy has returned to the area. We are investigating”