Lagos, Police Strategize For Peace In Oshodi
‘NO longer at ease’ is one title that will rightly describe the current situation in Oshodi, the most popular transit corridor connecting the whole of Lagos and beyond.
Besides its popularity for trade and transit almost round the clock, Oshodi is as well significant for its volatile nature; being a hub for all manner of people.
Street urchins, pickpockets, agbero, chain smokers, drug addicts, touts, road transport unionists among others have their headquarters in the axis, and it has source of much worry for both residents and authorities.
Indeed, the recent clashes by rival groups for reasons allegedly not unconnected with election matters, is giving the state government and law enforcement agencies sleepless night.
Several State Security Council meetings, chaired by governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), have had the issue of peace during elections, especially in Oshodi axis, as a dominant agenda.
Police sources told The Guardian that the security operatives — made up of Police, State Security Service, Army, Navy and Airforce — were more preoccupied with ensuring peace after the mayhem two weeks ago, than apportioning blames to any political party.
State Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti, had in the wake of the crisis, denied that it was political in nature; rather a clash of interest among factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the ever-busy market.
To that effect, arrests were carried out with about 40 members of the union charged to court. Not done, the state government also announced the ban on all union activities in Oshodi, including toll collections, touting, sale of alcohol and drugs anywhere around the garages.
Aderanti noted that all the prohibitions were contained in the Lagos State Road Traffic Law 2012, and would now be enforced to the letters, to prevent another motor-park crisis.
According to him, “All the principal character are in custody. I’m not talking about the foot soldiers, but their leaders that are causing the mayhem and what we need to do is to get the arrowheads off, then all the foot soldiers can be tackled easily,” he said.
The police boss said the public must remember that Oshodi is volatile by nature and strategic to entire Lagos, hence the delay in arresting the ugly trend.
“Now we are going after the gate keepers that are encouraging young people into violence. By the time we destroy their command structure, then we can have peace in that area. Oshodi is a major hub and we have to be very careful in securing the area. We have picked at least up to 40 of them. I’ve given ultimatum to one of the leaders of the group to turn himself in before we declare him wanted,” he said.
It was gathered that the popular union leader is still at large, he is yet to be declared wanted by the police and neither has lasting peace returned to Oshodi.
Emerging from the last State Security Council meeting, held last Thursday, the State Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operation, Johnson Kokumo, said the Police and other security agencies had devised plans to ensure security in the axis and the state in general.
Kokumo said security had since been beefed up in Oshodi with Armored Personnel Carriers stationed in strategic locations, as part of efforts to prevent fresh crisis.
“Already, security has been beefed up all over the place; if you go there now you will see things for yourself. We have in place Armored Personnel Carriers, we have adequate number of Police Mobile Force units deployed there along with Intelligence officers who are collecting information to ensure that before any evil plans are carried out we would have gotten information; meaning that proactive measures are in place,’’ he said.
Also present at the private Security Council meeting are Fashola, Commander NNS Beecroft, Olokun Apapa, Navy Commodore Teikum Ikoli, Commander Airforce Base Ikeja, Air Commodore Lere Osanyintolu, Commander 9 Mechanized Brigade, Major General Ahmed Mohammed Sabo, Director State Security Service, Ben Olayi and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Major Tunde Panox (Rtd).
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