Lagos: Hoodlums stab driver, conductor as victims squabble with LASTMA officials

Suspected hoodlums said to be working with some officials of the Lagos State Management Traffic Authority have stabbed a commercial bus driver, Jamiu Alao, in the Costain area of Lagos State.

Alao’s bus developed a fault and broke down on the road.

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Some LASTMA officials were said to have attempted to tow the bus, a move that was resisted by the driver.

Shortly after, the hoodlums were said to have arrived at the scene and stabbed the victim with a broken bottle in the presence of the officials.

The driver, who spoke to our correspondent on Wednesday, said the incident occurred on December 22, 2022.

He said, “My conductor and I loaded our bus at Apongbon and when we got to Costain at the Nigerian Brewery, the bus developed a fault under the bridge. I discovered the gear was faulty.

“Some boys helped us to push the vehicle to a side of the road to avoid causing traffic. I paid the boys that helped us. We saw a mechanic and he was already fixing the vehicle when some LASTMA officials came with their vehicle and a towing van.

“They started harassing us and I told them that the vehicle was not on the road and I was properly parked, but they insisted that they wanted to seize my vehicle; I told them they couldn’t.

“After saying this, some boys who usually followed them, came and started pushing me. The next thing, one of them took a bottle from the LASTMA vehicle and hit it on my head. Before I could even see who broke the bottle on my head, another one hit me with the bottle again and they used the bottle to stab me in the forehead.

“The LASTMA officials watched the whole thing; they were already seated in my bus, wanting to take it. They didn’t say or do anything. It was when they saw the fracas was much that one of them beckoned on others to get down from the bus so they could leave. They took their vehicle and ran off. Those hoodlums injured me and my conductor badly.”

Alao said the following day, he called the spokesperson for the agency, Taofiq Adebayo, to complain about the attack on him.

He noted that the LASTMA official then summoned him to the agency’s headquarters at Oshodi.

“When we got there, they asked me for evidence. I told them that I only have the initial part of the LASTMA vehicle number, which is 216; one of the officials checked the number in their system and said their officials in Zone 3 use those vehicles.

“They were called on the phone and asked what transpired. One of them that was present that day said the area boys called their boss and when they got to Costain, I refused to drop the vehicle and it resulted in a fight.

“The PRO instructed that official to come to the head office that day, but we didn’t see him. Eventually, after some days, they brought the officials to us, but they kept defending themselves, saying before they came, we had been fighting with the area boys.

“Is it possible that I would have been fighting with them earlier and they wouldn’t have stolen my phones and other possessions? They didn’t let other witnesses that came with me enter the office and they told me to go out too because the investigation was ongoing, and since then, nothing has been done,” the driver added.

He noted that the incident was reported at the Iponri Police Station, adding that he struggled to raise money for his treatment.

“These LASTMA officials use these area boys to do their dirty work,” Alao said.

The President of the Joint Drivers Welfare Association of Nigeria, Akintade Abiodun, stated that LASTMA officials usually worked in connivance with hoodlums.

He said, “The area boys have the phone numbers of all these officials and call them when they find an unsuspecting driver. They know that if any vehicle is towed and whether the driver commits an offence or not, they (the area boys) will have their own share. There should be an end to this. These boys will go as far as stabbing to overpower any driver, conductor, or anyone involved because they know the LASTMA officials will not give them anything if the vehicle is not towed.”

However, the Director of Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department, LASTMA, Adebayo, said the agency had no hand in the incident.

Adebayo, in a statement, explained that during a fact-finding mission by the agency, Alao said the hoodlums attacked him because he refused to pay them money to allow a technician to work on his faulty vehicle.

The statement read, “Investigations revealed that the commercial driver, Jamiu Alao, and his boys were stabbed by area boys at Ijora because he refused to pay them money (owo oni-ile) before his technician could be allowed to work on his broken down coaster bus.

“The hot argument later turned into a serious fracas where some transport union members supported the driver and engaged those area boys with dangerous weapons.

“Unfortunately for the driver, he and his conductor got stabbed at different spots by these notorious area boys before the arrival of the police. LASTMA officials, with the towing vehicle operator, left the scene immediately and continued their official duties.”

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