The Apapa Zonal Head of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, Mr. Bakare Olatunji was yesterday beaten to death by an angry mob.
The sad event which led to the death of Mr Bakare happened after he led a team of officials to the Liverpool area of Apapa in a patrol van to arrest erring motorists at about 11am. On sighting the LASTMA agents, tanker drivers, who parked their vehicles on the road took to their heels.
Unfortunately, the LASTMA van ran over an assistant driver (motor boy), killing him on the spot while he tried to escape arrest. Angered by the boy’s death, a mob went on rampage killing Mr Bakare in the process.
According to eye witness reports gathered by Punch, 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 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, who confirmed the incident said the case was under investigation and the perpetrators will be brought to book.