Nigeria: 15 LASTMA Officials Wounded in Clash With Soldiers As Others Vacate Duty Posts

No fewer than 15 officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, have reportedly been injured in the ongoing crisis between them and some soldiers in Lagos.

Consequently, LASTMA officials withdrew from their duty posts in Lagos State, over fear of being attacked by soldiers.

From Ojota to Mile 2, there was no sight of the officials. Those on the BRT lanes were not exempted from the withdrawal either.

Vanguard gathered that trouble started last Friday, when a soldier was attacked by some LASTMA officials at Oshodi area of Lagos.

It was gathered that the soldier with an unknown identity was in a vehicle that was apprehended by LASTMA officials for violating traffic rules.

The soldier reportedly intervened by appealing to the LASTMA officials to allow the driver of the vehicle to go because of him.

But all entreaties fell on deaf ears as all passengers in the vehicle were ordered to alight, for the vehicle to be taken to LASTMA yard in Oshodi.

An altercation between the soldier and LASTMA officials degenerated into a fight, during which the latter was outnumbered and overpowered.

He was reportedly beaten and dragged to the ground by the LASTMA officials.

However, in a viral video on social media, a soldier in military camouflage was seen being flogged by some LASTMA officials.

Moments later, some soldiers stormed the area and attacked LASTMA officials at sight, an action that forced all the officials to leave the Oshodi axis.

It could not be ascertained whether the video clip was that of the latest attack that led to the ongoing crisis.

One of the commercial bus drivers plying Oshodi/NAHCO route, Mr Andrew James, who spoke with Vanguard, said: “LASTMA officials should be retrained on human relations. The attacked soldier was heard telling the officials that he had an iron in his hand. Even if he was not a soldier, no human being deserved to be treated that way.”

The reprisal attack by some soldiers continued, weekend, in Oshodi and Ojota areas of the state.

It was learned that some LASTMA officials were also attacked yesterday, by some persons in mufti, who claimed to be soldiers, in the Ojota area of the state.

At 1 p.m., most of the officials had vacated their duty posts in major areas of Lagos, as news of the attack spread.

One of the officials at 7/8 Junction, Ajao Estate, was sighted removing his uniform at 9 a.m., yesterday, to avoid being identified.

Speaking with Vanguard, he said: “I had to take this measure because if anyone is killed in the process, nothing will be done. This is not the first time soldiers will attack members of other government agencies. Even when it resulted in the death of some policemen, nothing was done about it. This case should have been resolved by now by both authorities. It should not be allowed to escalate.

“No fewer than 15 of my colleagues have been wounded since this crisis started. My colleagues have all vacated their duty posts because news went round that the soldiers were out for LASTMA officials in Lagos.”

Another official at the Ikotun area of Lagos said: “Yes, we have withdrawn from the road because nobody knows where or when they will strike. We got a text from our platform to withdraw for our own good.

“But we were advised to stand-by pending when the matter will be resolved. For me, I am not even close to my duty post because nobody knows if they are working with community people that will identify us.”

When the Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment, LASTMA, Mr. Adebayo Taofiq, was contacted, he said an official statement would be issued soon.

On his part, spokesman for 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col Adebisi Ayeni, said: “I am aware that a LASTMA personnel attacked a soldier in uniform on Friday. An investigation into the issue is ongoing.”

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