Driver burnt alive for ‘stabbing’ passenger to death
• Police rescue conductor, blame Ladipo traders for mayhem
In a fit of rage, a commercial bus driver was yesterday morning lynched and set ablaze by a mob for allegedly stabbing a passenger to death. The incident occurred at about 10:00a.m. at Five Star bus-stop, along Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, Lagos State.
What set out to be a busy day at the weekly Aswani market, the last before Christmas, turned riotous when a bus driver reportedly stabbed a passenger who demanded his N100 balance. He was alleged to have hit the male passenger with a spanner before stabbing him with a knife on the stomach over a disagreement on N100.
According to witnesses, the said passenger disembarked from the bus and requested his balance but the bus conductor said he did not have change. At that point, the driver made to move when the passenger dragged the conductor from the bus, leading to an argument.
Another account from eyewitnesses said the driver had loaded passengers from Ikotun en-route Oshodi but due to gridlock, refused to proceed when he got to Aswani. He was said to have told the passengers he could not continue the journey and offered to refund N50 from the amount collected so the passengers could continue their journey by another bus.
While some passengers agreed to the deal, others refused, insisting that the bus must carry them to Oshodi. This, according to an account, was what led to the scuffle. Sensing that the non-complying passengers were overpowering his conductor, the driver decided to join in the brawl that led to a passenger being severely hit on the stomach.
It was gathered that as soon as the driver stabbed one of the passengers, he sped off but was caught at Five Star by a mob that chased the bus on motorcycle. “As soon as the mob saw them. They descended on the driver and his conductor, beat them up but the conductor managed to escape, while the driver was set ablaze, while he was still gasping for breath.
“The bus was also burnt by the mob. The conductor fled because he ran across the expressway to the other side and mingled with the crowd,” a witness said.Another witness told The Guardian that the mob prevented the police and fire service officials from rescuing the driver, adding that the officers were pelted with stones.
“The people were angry. They stoned policemen and fire service officials who came to rescue the driver. They even broke the windscreen of a police vehicle. People were just running in different directions. It was a horrible sight to behold. A human being burning alive and no one could help,” he said.
The incident made some traders at the Ladipo auto spare parts market go on rampage, destroying any commercial vehicle in sight, as they claimed the deceased passenger was one of them in the market. “The hoodlums took advantage of the situation and continued their rampage from Aswani market to Toyota bus-stop. They even invaded the Fire Service station at Toyota bus-stop and started attacking everyone but they took to their heels when policemen arrived there,” a stranded bystander said.
Narrating his ordeal after his vehicle was damaged, a commercial bus driver, Sunday Obasa, said: “I was at Toyota bus-stop looking for where to get fuel pump when one of the Ladipo guys came to me and said this is one of them, set him on fire. He broke my side mirror and within a minute, I was surrounded by Ladipo boys. They started breaking my glass, I was lucky to have escaped because they wanted to lynch me.”
Confirming the incident, police spokesman, Chike Oti, said several persons had been arrested and investigations were ongoing. Oti confirmed that a police patrol vehicle was vandalized and three cops injured while trying to rescue the victims.He said: “The police rescued the conductor from near death. From his account, trouble started after the driver told passengers he could not proceed to Oshodi. He said the driver appealed to the passengers and offered to refund some of their fare but some of the passengers turned down the offer.
“An argument soon led to a fight and in the process, hoodlums hijacked the situation. They set the driver and conductor ablaze. The driver was badly burnt as at the time they were rescued. He was rushed to LUTH where he was confirmed dead. We have made a number of arrests and investigation is ongoing. It is true that the police suffered a lot while trying to rescue the victims. About three policemen sustained injuries and their vehicle windscreen was shattered.
“We do not have any report that someone was stabbed to death or even stabbed. Although the conductor said his driver used a knife to defend himself at a point, no one has come forward to report a death or injury arising from stabbing in that axis.
“The command frowns on jungle justice. Lagosians have been warned to desist from such practices. Why should anyone set another human being ablaze and then prevent officials of government from rescuing the victims? The hoodlums practically prevented the police and fire service from proceeding to the location in order to douse the flame.” A bus conductor-passenger misunderstanding went awry in Lagos on Tuesday morning, leading to the death of the two.
Eyewitnesses at the Five Star Bus Stop near Aswani Market, where the incident occurred, said the passenger was stabbed by the conductor over a disagreement on N100 balance.
According to eyewitnesses, The bus was heading to Aswani market area, which the passenger opted to alight at the junction and demanded his N100 balance.
The Guardian gathered that the conductor held on to the balance and allegedly threatened not to hand the passenger his balance. As the argument ensued, the conductor took a knife from the wares of a Hausa man selling by the roadside and stabbed the passenger, who died immediately.
On-looking sympathetic passer-bys then attacked the conductor in return and rounded him with vehicle tyres and set him ablaze. They also burnt the vehicle.
Trouble doubled along the road after the same passenger-sympathizers took possession of the left side of the road to effect more havocs on coming danfo drivers.The Guardian gathered that three other danfo vehicles were destroyed in retaliation of the passenger’s death.
The death of the two set the environment in pandemonium, as traders, motorists and pedestrians scampered for their lives. Commercial activities and movement along the road were halted by the incident. Efforts made by The Guardian to speak with The Police proved abortive, as phone calls and text messages were unreplied.