Posted by News Express | 25 February 2022 | 469 times
Outcries and condemnations have trailed the activities of Lagos State Police Task Force officers, who commercial motorists claimed, have continued to lay an ambush against them on major roads.
For months, allegations of extortion and high handedness of members of the task force have been rife.
Recently, a commercial vehicle driver, who was frustrated by the activities of Lagos officials set himself ablaze in the Ajao Estate area of Lagos, in protest of the seizure of his bus.
Eyewitnesses said the driver, whose identity could not be immediately ascertained, was arrested for an alleged traffic offence.
Two officials were said to have dragged him out of the vehicle and started the ignition for onward movement to their base at Oshodi.
As they were about to move, the driver, according to eyewitnesses, poured fuel on his body and struck a matchstick.
While efforts were on to put out the fire, other commercial bus drivers and conductors, including passers-by, started throwing stones at the officials, a development that degenerated into a free-for-all.
Some drivers, who spoke to The Guardian on the continued extortion by the officials after the incident, identified Second Rainbow Bus Stop, along Apapa -Oshodi Expressway as a common spot, where they usually operate.
They alleged that officials of the task force often operate with touts in the unlabelled buses, with one flinging at the door, one at the bonnet, trying to remove car batteries, and another by the door, attempting to pull out car keys from vehicles.
When The Guardian visited Second Rainbow Bus Stop, yesterday, some of the officials of the task force were in an unmarked bus, where they suddenly blocked a bus driver, and before he could properly apply his brake and catch his breath, about five armed men pounced on his bus.
The task force officials forced the driver to hand -over his bus key, while he was trying to put the gear on park, he was slapped by an officer.
The scene could be likened to when policemen sight a criminal, who has been on a wanted list for long.
A driver, who is conversant with this modus operandi, said, the task force officials will call for negotiation after the scenario, while those who can’t meet their demands, will have to forfeit their vehicles or be charged to the mobile court in Oshodi.
According to the driver, the officials often demand between N25,000 or N50,000 to release seized vehicles
But the task force chairman, Sola Jejeloye, had severally denied the involvement of his men in such a despicable act.
Spokesperson for the task force, Abdulraheem Gbadeyan, also denied the involvement of task force members in such acts.
He demanded pictorial evidence to confirm if officials involved in the Second Rainbow debacle were members of the Lagos Taskforce.
After it was sent, he said: “Did you see them with LASTMA officials, did you see our branded vehicle with them, if not, they are not task force members. We don’t operate without our branded vehicle. Not all policemen you see on the streets are task force members, most policemen use our tactical jackets, but they are not.”
When The Guardian gave the name of an official involved, he said: “The allegation that our men were asking for between N25,000 or N50,000 to release seized vehicles is untrue.
“We don’t stop a vehicle and arrest the driver, that’s not part of how we work, we can only arrest vehicles obstructing traffic or those packed on the spaces not designated as parks, but we don’t stop and arrest or stop and check, but I will still find out.” (The Guardian)
•Members of the Lagos State Task Force boarding one of the seized commercial buses at Second Rainbow Bus stop, Lagos
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