There was pandemonium in the Liverpool, Apapa area of Lagos on Thursday after an irate mob lynched a commander of the Lagos State Transport Management Agency, Mr. Bakare Olatunji.
It was learnt that Olatunji, who was the zonal head of the agency in the Apapa area, had led a team of officials to the area in a patrol van to arrest erring motorists at about 11am.
It was gathered that tanker drivers, who parked their vehicles on the road fled on sighting the enforcement agents.
The LASTMA van was said to have ran into an assistant driver (motor boy) while he struggled to escape arrest.
The boy, whose name had yet to be ascertained, was reportedly sleeping by the roadside.
He died on the spot.
Angered by the boy’s death, his friends were said to have regrouped and went on the rampage, killing Olatunji in the process.
A mechanic in the area, Uthman Salau, said another LASTMA official was injured, while others fled the scene.
He said, “The drivers were relaxing around 10.30am when they saw a LASTMA van approaching. They felt the officials had come to arrest them for parking vehicles indiscriminately. So, they ran away. A motor boy, who was sleeping beside a tanker, was woken up by the commotion. Before he could escape from the spot, the LASTMA van hit him and he died instantly.
“One of the drivers, who saw the boy lying in a pool of blood, called his colleagues and they stormed the scene with cutlasses, bottles and all sorts of weapons. The officials fled with the van except their team leader (Olatunji). They stabbed him to death.”
However, an eyewitness, who gave his name only as Issa, said the operatives had flagged down a motorist, who refused to stop, adding that the agency’s van knocked down the boy as they gave the driver a chase.
“LASTMA agents are fond of extorting money from motorists on roads around here. Their leader waited behind after his men had fled, thinking that he could pacify the angry youth. But he was not lucky. They killed him,” he said.
A driver, who did not disclose his name, said he got to the scene after Olatunji had been killed.
“I am not sure whether the LASTMA officials were chasing somebody or not. What I learnt was that the boy was killed by their van, which sparked off the protest and the eventual killing of one of the officials,” he added.
A LASTMA official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his colleagues had been under fire for lax enforcement which made them to intensify operations in the area.
He said, “Ordinarily, they would not have gone for operations in that area. However, two weeks ago, the management was angry that we have not performed to expectation in terms of enforcement. Each zone was asked to generate N12m by December 19. So, we are under pressure to deliver. That is the reality we are battling with.”
LASTMA spokesperson, Mahmud Hassan, said investigation had commenced to ascertain the cause of the incident. He, however, refuted the claim that the agency was mandated to generate revenue.
He said, “I can confirm his (Olatunji’s) death. We are still investigating and I will get back to you. The Lagos State Government did not set up LASTMA as a revenue generation agency. We are there to provide services to the good people of the state. So, we are not after generating revenue. What we are after is safety on Lagos roads and our men are professional. That is our primary duty and responsibility and that is what we have been doing day and night.
“No target is given to anybody. We are not compelled under any circumstance to meet certain target at a particular time of the month or year.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, in a text message, said the case was under investigation.