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Violent protest rocks Lagos

Posted by By FEMI BABAFEMI, CHRISTOPHER OJI, CHRIS ANNCHA. PHILIP NWOSU AND OLUWATOYOSI OGUNSEYE on 2005/07/27 | Views: 868 |

Violent protest rocks Lagos


Angry protest, provoked by the shooting to death of a motorcycle rider by a naval officer in Lagos Monday evening, spilled over to Tuesday, causing dislocation to traffic and commercial activities in the Ikeja area of the state.

Angry protest, provoked by the shooting to death of a motorcycle rider by a naval officer in Lagos Monday evening, spilled over to Tuesday, causing dislocation to traffic and commercial activities in the Ikeja area of the state.

A naval officer, Lieutenant Felix Odunlami, attached to the NNS Beecroft, Apapa, had, during a dispute which arose after a minor accident involving his car and one Peter Eze, a scutter rider, and and staffer of Wahum Group of Companies, drew his service pistol and shot the motorbike rider in the head. He died on the spot.
The incident, which happened at about 6.40 PM, sparked a spontaneous riot spearheaded by commercial motorbike (Okada) riders who mistook the victim as one of their own.

Amid the rampage, the naval officerís car, a Mercedes Benz 190, with registration number AR 374 SMK, was set ablaze, while he was beaten to a pulp.
But for the quick intervention of policemen, Lt Odunlami, who had had a disused tyre hung on his neck and doused in petrol by an angry mob, would have been burnt alive.
The angry mob fanned around Oregun junction on the Obafemi Awolowo Way scene of the accident and destroyed property and made bonfires of disused tyres.
As the protest by Okada riders entered day two, naval authorities have vowed to court martial the officer.

The Okada riders, who took over the popular Allen roundabout, Ikeja busstop and Awolowo Way, as early as 7 a.m went violent as they destroyed traffic lights and other valuables in sight.
Besides going on rampage along the major roads in Ikeja, the Okada riders also stormed the Alausa Secretariat of the state government to register their protest against the killing.
To curtail the spread of the protest to other parts of the state, the Commissioner of Police Ade Ajaikaye, was said to have summoned his Area Commander, Divisional Police Officers and Mobile Squadron leaders to a meeting while teams of armed policemen backed by armoured vehicles were dispatched to Ikeja to quell the riots.

It was learnt that the Okada men had barricaded the roads leading to Ojota, Ikeja and Opebi forcing motorists to avoid the area while their colleagues, who failed to join their protest, were beaten up.

When Daily Sun got to Allen roundabout at about 11:30 am, over 100 Okada riders were seen carrying tree trunks and leaves while traffic wardens stationed in the area were forced to leave.
Meanwhile, the naval officer, who fired the lethal shot that killed Peter Eze, has been moved from Alausa police station, Ikeja to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) from where he was taken to St Stephen Hospital in Yaba, where he is being treated for wounds suffered from the mob action. He was said to have had at least six stitches on the head. He is being guarded by policemen on his hospital bed.

Sources revealed that by Tuesday evening, the case file had been transferred from the anti-robbery squad in Panti to the homicide section of the force.
When Daily Sun visited the NNS Beecroft headquarters in Apapa, the commanding officer Navy Captain George Alily was not around to speak on the matter. But the Command Information Officer of the Western Naval Command, Lieutenant Commander Mohammed Wabi, disclosed that investigation was still going on to ascertain the true identity of the officer.

He said the police were yet to furnish the navy with the details of what happened, "because as at now, we are only reading it on pages of newspapers."
While explaining that the police, under the law, are supposed to hand-in the officer to the navy for appropriate action, he added that this is so, "because the officer, if he is a naval officer, is still under service laws."

He vowed that as soon as the true identity of the officer was established and the officer, released to the naval authorities, he would be made to face court-martial.
Meanwhile, the Police Tuesday explained that the motorcyclist felled by the naval personnelís bullet was not a commercial motorcyclist, but a staff of WAHUM Group of Companies, along Oba Akran Ikeja
According to the Lagos State Police spokesman, Mr Olubode Ojajuni, the incident, in which the motorcyclist was killed, resulted from a minor accident between the motorcyclist and the Naval personnel.

Meanwhile, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State has condemned the killing. The Publicity Secretary, Barrister Chibuzo Azubuike, who visited the police headquarters, Ikeja on a "fact finding mission," condemned the brutal killing of Ezeh and urged the police to ensure that the killer was brought to justice.

Azubuike, who said he was sent by the President, Chief John Nzewi, said Igbos in Lagos could not overlook the dastardly act, adding that it was the duty of Ohanaeze to protect the interest of all Igbos in every part of the country.
He said besides bringing the naval officer to justice, efforts should be made to compensate the victimís family.

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