Pandemonium erupted yesterday at the Obanikoro area of Lagos, when soldiers allegedly went on rampage after a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) crushed a lance corporal to death.
According to eyewitness account, after the deceased was said to have been crushed, some soldiers had stormed the scene and allegedly unleashed terror on passengers and motorists alike. The soldiers, who had allegedly stopped other BRT buses from plying that route, were said to have dragged out the passengers from the buses before they allegedly vandalised the Lagos State owned-buses.
The infraction which caused a terrible traffic snarl that lasted for hours was later hijacked by area boys, who seized the opportunity to cause further mayhem.
Despite calls made to the police to intervene, the different divisions in that area simply stayed off for fear of being victims of the raging soldiers.
Whilst the fracas lasted, BRT buses, especially those that ply that route stayed back at their parks, simply refusing to be deployed to the road, thus leaving passengers stranded.
When contacted, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 81 Division, Lieutenant Colonel Omale Ochagwuba, who confirmed the incident, said it was area boys and not soldiers who unleashed mayhem.
Ochagwuba, who could not disclose the identity of the deceased because his family members were yet to be notified, said the corpse has since been deposited at the 68 Reference Hospital, Yaba and the bus towed to Ikeja Cantonment. He said, "At about 6.30am, a BRT bus knocked down and killed a soldier around Obanikoro area while on his way to the office.
"The driver of the bus took the body of the soldier into the bus and attempted to drive away. But when the other soldiers who witnessed the incident rushed to the scene, the driver of the bus ran away with the key. "The soldiers then secured the vehicle which was later towed away to safety in our custody. Area boys then took advantage of the incident and started attacking BRT Buses. "From observation, you will discover that, the BRT buses burnt were far away from the scene of the incident and that the BRT bus in particular that killed the soldier was not attacked nor vandalised and it is still intact. Our personnel were immediately dispatched to the scene to restore normalcy, So that traffic could flow."
In a similar development, some commercial bus drivers stormed the Oba Akran branch of Wema bank, attacked the bank and destroyed about 15 vehicles in the melee. The drivers were said to have been protesting the action of a security guard attached to the bank, who allegedly shot at a conductor and fractured his leg. Confirming the incident, the Spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South-West zone, Ibrahim Farinloye said it took the intervention of the police before the injured could be taken to the hospital.
He said, "The clash was so intense that it took efforts from the police before the emergency workers were allowed to take away the injured person because the protesters had blocked the road, causing a terrible traffic snarl."