Three persons were feared dead yesterday when operatives of the Lagos State Task Force and motorcyclists clashed on Isolo Road, in Mushin area of the state. Operatives of the task force were said to have gone to the motorcyclists’ park on Isolo Road about 10a.m. to impound motorcycles, but they were resisted by the riders which led to a clash. It was learnt that the motorcycle riders chased the policemen to Ojuwoye Junction. But when they got to the junction where traders were, the policemen started shooting at the riders. Witnesses said stray bullets hit two persons while the policemen’s van crushed a trader to death at Ojuwoye Market.
A trader, who identified herself simply as Iyabo, said there was commotion in the market, when the policemen started shooting indiscriminately. She said: “We were in the market, when suddenly we saw the task force officials in their vehicles with some motorcycle riders coming towards Ojuwoye junction. Before we knew what was happening traders had started shutting down their shops. “Before we knew what was happening, a hairdresser apprentice and a motorcycle rider had been hit by stray bullets from the policemen.
A woman, who was selling on the roadside, was crushed by the policemen’s truck.” Another resident, who did not want his name in prints, gave the names of the victims as Modinat, Abimbola Kolapo and Kazeem. He said: “It was unfortunate that they were killed in such circumstance.
The late Modinat was returning from school where she took her master’s daughter when the stray bullets hit her and Kazeem. The stray bullet hit the motorcycle rider in the chest, while Abimobola was also crushed to death by the truck of the task force when they were trying to escape from the motorcyclists, who were chasing them.
“What annoyed me most was that when we tried to rescue the trapped woman under their truck, the task force officials threatened to shoot anybody who dared to go close to the woman who was calling for help. Unfortunately before she was rushed to the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, she had died.
Her death ignited a protest.” Modinat’s distraught sister, Mrs. Aduke Adekola, said, it was bitter pill for the family to swallow. Adekola said the deceased left home in the morning with a promise to return. She said: “I learnt she was not part of those who were fighting the motorcycle riders; she was returning from where her master sent her when the stray bullet from the policemen hit her. I was told the policemen also prevented people from going close to her, in an attempt to rescue her. “But they were the ones who later evacuated her remains to the mortuary at LUTH. We don’t know how to inform her mother of her death. “I also learnt that her boss, Kudirat, fainted and was rushed to the hospital immediately she heard that Modinat had died. Her family members are still battling to bring her back to life; this is too much for us to bear.”
The Chairman of the Amalgamated Commercial Tricycle and Motorcycle Owners, Repairers and Riders association of Nigeria (ACOMORAN), who simply gave his name as Abo, said the excesses of the task force officials were unbearable. He said: “When they came this morning (yesterday), they approached me for money, which we normally give them. But one of them said the money we gave them was not enough and that we should add to it. “We persuaded them to accept it but they threatened to impound our motorcycles.
I said if they impound our motorcycles, how were we going to give them the money they normally collect from us? Before I knew what was happening, they had started impounding our motorbikes and we also resisted them.” Abo added that out of annoyance, some of the motorcycle owners mobilised themselves and started shouting at the policemen. He said: “To my surprise, the policemen started shooting sporadically. In the process, two persons were hit by stray bullets and one another woman was crushed to death when they were trying to escape from the angry mob.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Chike Oti, could not be reached on his mobile line at press time. Confirming the incident, the head of Public Affairs, Lagos State Task Force. Mr. Adebayo Taofeek, said they went on a normal routine of enforcing the state traffic law. He said: “We were able to impound 25 motorcycles and took them to our office.
While at the office we received a distress call that some of the riders had mobilised and went on the rampage. We went back to the area with the support of policemen from Area D Command to maintain law and order. “Unfortunately, when we got to the scene, they had injured two officials of KAI and we were trying to rescue them when they attacked our vehicles. But I am not aware if anybody was killed in the process.”
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