Man seeks justice after Lagos task force allegedly fires teargas, sets car ablaze
• Uproar as body strikes, tows vehicles from Ikoyi court
The year began rather on a sour note for Joseph Isaac, a contractor with OK Foods Ltd when on Monday night, his vehicle went up in flames moments after operatives of the Lagos State Environmental Monitoring Task Force swooped on and raided traders and commercial motorcycle operators at Toyota bus-stop along Oshodi-Apapa expressway.
The policemen had attempted to arrest some Okada riders who had stationed themselves at the cordoned off section of the road presently undergoing rehabilitation to pick up traders winding down the day’s activity at the Ladipo auto spare parts market when all hell was let loose.
Some riders resisted arrest and a crossfire began between the traders, passersby and the security operatives who were exchanging stones, bottles and sticks. In the ensuing melee, the policemen threw tear gas canisters to douse to tension when suddenly, one of the tear gas canisters directly hit a Toyota Camry car parked in front of the OK Foods premises. Upon impact, the tear gas broke the rear windscreen and exploded inside the car.
Owner of the vehicle with registration number: Lagos AGL 748 FN, Isaac, looking distraught, said all he wants from the state government and the police is justice. “I was inside doing some tax filing in the office when I heard noise outside. I came out and saw policemen shooting sporadically and people were running helter skelter to avoid been hit by stray bullet
“Many women got injured running for their lives. It was in the midst of that confusion that my car went up in flames. Because of the shooting, nobody was willing to come out and quench the fire until they saw the policemen flee the scene before people now came around to help me put out the fire. Incidentally, the tear gas canister was found in the back seat of the car.”
When The Guardian contacted the task force at Oshodi, an officer who pleaded for anonymity denied setting any car ablaze at Toyota bus-stop, saying “it is not true. Our men must have been under attack to warrant the use of tear gas.”
Meanwhile, there was commotion outside the premises of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi yesterday and a disruption of proceedings at the court Sitting as the Lagos State Sanitation Task Force officials, comprising KAI, policemen and para-military men raided the area. The task force, which embarked on a cleaning campaign in parts of Lagos, towed vehicles parked on Oyinkan Abayomi Drive in front of the court.
They also made some arrests. This triggered some commotion, as lawyers and litigants, who had parked their vehicles outside ran out of the courtrooms to confront the officials. In the ensuing commotion, armed policemen threatened to shoot car owners, who tried to prevent the exercise. The premises of the court became a bedlam of confusion and court activities were suspended.
Last December, the task force came for a similar operation, but they were overpowered by the crowd.
This time around, they came well prepared with the combined police and para -military operatives, who were ruthless.
In the cause of the operation, about 20 people were arrested including an official of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Many phones were also seized from some lawyers, litigants and staff of the court.
The head of the team refused to speak with journalists who witnessed the incident.
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