Pandemonium broke out on Wednesday in the Ibeshe, Ikorodu area of Lagos State, after a mob, made up of motorcycle riders, attacked the Ibeshe Police Station with stones, bottles and attempted to burn it down.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the mob was prevented from carrying out the act by shots fired by policemen attached to the station, who also called for reinforcement from surrounding divisions.
After beating a retreat, our correspondent gathered that the crowd set ablaze a patrol vehicle in the area and attacked policemen in sight.
It was learnt that a motorcycle rider, identified as Paul, aka Baba Ezine, had died in the early hours of Wednesday after an accident which residents claimed was caused by the police.
A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Ebonyi State indigene had attempted to evade a police checkpoint when he had the accident.
She said, “The man was taking a passenger somewhere on Tuesday when he ran into the police checkpoint. He tried to evade the policemen, but crashed into a gutter. People said the policemen chased him into the gutter.
“After the accident, the police operatives, instead of taking him to a hospital, left him in the gutter. They, however, seized his motorcycle, which they took to their station.
“The man’s friends later took him to a hospital where he died this morning (Wednesday). The man’s kinsmen and colleagues from Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, mobilised and took his corpse to the palace of the Baale of Owode, who urged them to be calm and promised to do something.
“From the palace, they took his remains to the police station. The police fired shots into the air to scare them away. That was when they found a police van which they burnt.”
Another resident said the deceased, who was in his 40s, had recently lost his wife and mother.
He said, “Paul’s wife died in September 2017, while his mother, who came from the village to take care of their five children, died in February 2018. Since then, he lived alone with the children in the Owode Labake area.”
A community leader, who did not want to be identified, lamented that the police had been arresting innocent residents on the street in a bid to apprehend those behind the burning of the police vehicle.
However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, in a statement on Wednesday, said the attack on the station was unwarranted.
He said the police authorities would ensure that those behind the arson were punished.
He said, “The Lagos State Police Command notes with regret the unfortunate burning of a police patrol van stationed at a black spot in Ibeshe, in the Ipakodo area of Ikorodu, Lagos State, by irate motorcyclists, aka okada riders, around 10.45am today (Wednesday).
“The incident was occasioned by an encounter between policemen manning the black spot and an okada rider plying the route way beyond the Lagos State approved time of 10pm.
“As he approached the police pin down point, the police team observed that he carried a passenger with a big bag placed between him and the rider and so they flagged him down. But instead of obeying the police signal, the okadaman increased his speed in order to evade police scrutiny. Sadly, he ended up in a ditch and passed on, while his associate with the suspicious bag vanished into thin air.
“However, around 10am today, okada riders sympathetic to their late colleague mobilised in their thousands and attempted to burn the Ibeshe Police Post. They were resisted. So, they moved and found a softer target, which was a police van stationed at a known black spot in Ibeshe, and set it ablaze.”
Oti said the police command would no longer condone destruction of its property, adding that it might use firearms to stop such actions in the future.
The police spokesperson, who said 63 suspects had already been arrested, urged residents to register their grievances against police action with the authorities for appropriate action.
“The CP Lagos has directed that the 63 okada riders arrested for burning the police vehicle should be charged to court for arson. He has also directed the Officer-in-Charge, Legal, to file a motion to a court of competent jurisdiction to surcharge the suspects for the purchase of another police patrol vehicle,” he added.