Gridlock: Tension rises in Apapa as suspected miscreants launch attack on Presidential task team

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File: Gridlock as tankers shut down Apapa road.Grid

Eyewitnesses narrate accounts, say no casually recorded

Police van vandalised

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Traffic gridlock may worsen in the coming weeks as operators and stakeholders in Apapa ports are currently living in fears following a violent attack on men of the Presidential Task Team on Restoration of law and order in Apapa by suspected miscreants during an operation.

The incident, it was gathered happened at the weekend around Second Gate, Tincan Island Port, Apapa.

However, eyewitnesses have debunked claimed by some group claiming that a person died as a result of a gunshot wound sustained during the clash which left the operational van of the leader of the Presidential task team completely destroyed by the rampaging hoodlums, allegedly led by one Tao, as popularly called.

The casualty was simply identified as Adamu, a truck driver.

It was gathered that the corpse of the truck driver which was later placed on the vandalised police patrol vehicle in the night miraculously disappeared the next day without any trace till press time.

It was not too clear how the deceased person was shot dead but an eyewitness informed that some of the aggrieved truck drivers had accused the Policemen of partiality in the discharge of their operations.

However, there were conflicting reports over the cause of the incident. While a version claimed extortion, others claimed enforcement of traffic decongestion.

According to reports, the attackers were protesting the brazen extortion of truck drivers on endless queues along major connecting roads inward Apapa, Lagos allegedly being perpetrated by Policemen operating in the area.

Several attempts to get the reaction of the Command Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Superintendent of Police, SP, Olumuyiwa Adejobi on the incident was not successful but a source close to his office which confirmed it said the Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu had been fully briefed on the incident adding,

“The CP is aware of that matter and I think it is being handled.”

Sequel to the latest incident, Vanguard gathered that the Nigeria Port Authority, NPA, in a letter, through the Office of Director Marine and Operations, Mr. Onari Brown, addressed to Chief Operating Officer, MOB integrated Services, dated August 6, 2020: titled: RE: Closure of Access Road to Tincan Island Port, Apapa, stated clearly the responsibility of the Presidential task team in maintenance of traffic in the port area and environs.

The letter read in part: “We refer in your letter dated 19th, July 2020. The Presidential task team and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA,  have the responsibility to maintain law and order ensuring the free flow of traffic on every road in Apapa, including the ports.

“The personnel of NPA Tincan Island port has a responsibility to ensure roads to the ports are free of gridlock.

“The ongoing road construction by Hitech company has resulted in blockage of Tincan, Coconut axes, leaving only the service lane for trucks admission into Tincan Island Port for the past two months, hence, no truck has been allowed to exit the corridor.

“In the same vein, traffic flow via the Apapa-Liverpool Creek Road axis is now restricted to a lane.

“It is expedient to sensitise your members to corporate in ensuring this arrangement succeeds to aid operations and the elimination of traffic congestion within the ports and environs.”

Meanwhile, in response to the clash, Management of Kenneth Logistics Limited, one of the port operators in the axis, had petitioned Lagos CP, on the need to investigate the incident and take appropriate action to prevent another occurrence.

Ganiyu, in the petition dated November 20, 2020, and copied Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG, Zone 2, demanded a full investigation into violent activities orchestrated by a popular gang terrorising the Apapa axis.

The petition read in part: “It’s unfortunate that the efforts to ensure a smooth flow of traffic in Mile-2 Tincan Island, Apapa axis of the state is been hindered by people who should ordinarily join hands with the task team set up by FG to restore sanity on road in Apapa.

“As a truck manager, I truly appreciate the effort of the task team to assist truckers in getting access to the ports and make the environment conducive for users.

“Unfortunately, movement in and out of the ports has been on standstill for about a week thereby preventing us from doing our legitimate business.

“Amid effort by task team to clear the road and stop truckers who were entering the port through illegal means, a group of people led by the gang’s leader (Nameshwithhelds) stormed the road at Tincan Island Port, Apapa on Thursday around 5.30 pm after the road had been cleared by the task team.

“While on their way back to Mile-2 after the exercise the team was accosted by the gang and subsequently attacked with bottles and other dangerous weapons to the extent of attempting to burn the police van used for monitoring. The van was vandalised beyond repairs in the process. They also attempted to lynch officials of the task team.

‘I’m an eyewitness to the violent attack. I was also a victim as I sustained injuries on my legs and arms. I salute the courage and calm disposition of the task team leader, SUPOL Femi Iwasokan who was able to control his men and prevented escalation.

“It was heartening that the task team did not release any tear gas into the crowd despite the level of provocation. We thank God there was no casualty recorded.

“I, therefore, call on authorities to investigate the incident and take appropriate action to prevent another occurrence.

“It’s important to make the area conducive for workers while going about their lawful engagement.”

Eyewitnesses account

According to an eyewitness, Ajose Abdulazeez, a port operator, “The trouble started when men of Presidential Task team, led by Supol Femi arrived at Second Gate to clear traffic gridlock based on invitation of Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA as the area had been grounded for days due to activities of truckers.

“As usual, in Jo time, the Presidential task team restored sanity and ensure movement of traffic in the area.

“Having restored normalcy, the team was returning to base when they were accosted by a group of people, popularly called touts, challenging the operation of the task team, claiming it’s their territory and the task team should keep off.

“While Supol Femi was appealing to the leader of the group, called Tao, to allow decorum and free flow of traffic in the area, suddenly, other members of the gang started throwing bottles and pebbles at the team.

“In the ensuing melee, everyone ran in different directions for dear lives. Good enough, the task team maintained calm without releasing any tear gas or shots into the air.

“The gang attempted to burn the police van but failed. In an attempt to escape from the crisis zone the van was stranded because there was no access to as a truck blocked the only exit point. The team had to abandon the van to avoid being lynched as well by the rampaging miscreants.”

Ismail Oyetunji, a trucker at Tincan Island Park, who also witnessed the incident commended the way the task team handled the case, saying ” it could have been bloody if the task team had reacted to the provocation put up by the miscreants.”

Oyetunji stated, “From the best of my knowledge, there was no casualty as the task team kept their calm.

“I saw the task team clearing the road at Second Gate of Tincan Port because there was a total standstill traffic situation.

“After they cleared the road a gang regrouped and accosted the taskforce team on their way back. I was watching the scene from our garage.

“All of a sudden the gang launched an attack on the task team. In an apparent move to avoid bloody clash, the task team managed to escape but not with one of their operational vans which were vandalised by the attackers.

“Everybody had to rush and close shop for the day before the hoodlums will start looting. Up till, now, most of the operators are operating on skeletal duty because the situation is still tensed.

“That’s why we are calling on both Federal and state governments to intervene and provide adequate protection of lives and property in the area where government rakes in huge revenues from annually.”

When contacted for comment on the incident, Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Task Team, Comrade Kayode Opeifa, declined to make any comment, saying, “the Commissioner of Police is already handling the case with the view to ensure justice is done.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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