Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Monday received the report of the Tribunal of Enquiry on the Road Traffic Accident and subsequent Arson and Vandalism on BRT buses at Palmgrove along Ikorodu Road, giving a firm commitment that the administration would act on the recommendations that are ultimately acceptable to it.
The Governor, who spoke at Lagos House, Ikeja when he received the report from the Justice Ebenezer Adebajo- led Tribunal, explained that the report will still have to go through council deliberations and debates and, in the process, a White Paper would be issued.
He stated emphatically that there is no Tribunal of Enquiry or Commission that the State Government has set up in the past whose report has not been developed into a White Paper report.
He added that a White Paper on the report of the Tribunal of Enquiry would be issued which would communicate what government decisions on the recommendations are and the actions that would follow.
According to the Governor, the Security Trust Fund Law and the amendment of the Road Traffic Law itself were products of a Commission of Enquiry, adding that whenever the State sets up such Commissions, it follows it to the end by going through the recommendations because government understands that tax payers’ money and time have been spent in compiling such reports.
“So those kinds of reports by any serious government should not be put under the table. There is a learning field there and so we have consistently ensured that we would go through and as soon as I leave here, the report is going to the Council for the Head of Service to lead the process that will set the agenda for discussion”, he explained.
The Governor stressed that the protection of life and property rerty remains the principal duty for which governments exist and that whenever such unfortunate incidents like that of the July 4th last year, government must do everything to ensure that they do not reoccur.
He noted that when they unfortunately occur, the government must act in the way that the present administration in Lagos has acted to find out what caused it, to understand in that way, those who participated and in that way hopefully develop a mechanism for ensuring that it does not happen again.
He also appreciated the value of the work done by the Commission of Enquiry members and the time they committed and the skills utilized in undertaking the assignment.
He maintained that every self respecting government must undertake this kind of enquiries and every government can learn from it.
Speaking earlier, while presenting the report which is in eight volumes, the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Ebenezer Adebajo said the Tribunal has recommended an upgrading of the Lagos Area Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) and further empower it to effectively carry out its regulatory functions in relation to transportation in Lagos State.
He added that the Governor of Lagos State should demand an apology from the Nigerian Army and that the Nigerian Army should on behalf of the 9th Brigade, Ikeja Cantonment apologize in writing to the people of Lagos State and that such apology should be published in at least two national newspapers in order to reduce the constant friction between the military and the bus operators.
The Tribunal according to Justice Adebajo, found out that the accident happened on the night of the 3rd July 2014 when a soldier motorcyclist ran his motorbike into the back of a stationary BRT bus at Palmgrove Lagos, thus causing his own death.
The Tribunal also found out that late soldier motorcyclist rode his motorcycle without an helmet which was a breach of the provisions of the State Road Traffic Law and that the discovery of the corpse of the soldier motorcyclist in the morning of the 4th of July 2014 led to the mayhem.
The Tribunal also reported in its findings that extensive vandalism, burning of BRT buses, destruction of personal phones, harassment of innocent citizens that followed the death of the soldier motorcyclist were caused by identifiable soldiers of the 9th Brigade of the Army from Ikeja Cantonment but that there was no evidence of any looting before the Tribunal.
The Tribunal Chairman recalled that the Commission was empanelled on Monday July 21, 2014 as a firm step to inquire into the origin, causes and factors leading to the road traffic accident and subsequent arson and destruction of Bus Rapid Transit buses at Palmgrove on 4th July 2014.
The terms of reference includes to enquire into the road traffic accident involving a soldier motorcyclist and the BRT bus and the subsequent event at Maryland, Ikorodu Road, on Friday 4th July 2014.
It was also to ascertain the cause and location of the actual incident, whether on or off the BRT lane and the type and condition of vehicles involved and determine whether the late soldier or bus driver were in breach of the law.
The Tribunal was also to determine the extent of vandalism, arson, looting and harassment of innocent citizens that followed and identify the persons responsible or involved as well as make appropriate recommendations to prevent future occurrence of events of this nature, present any other observation and recommendations to the state government as it may consider appropriate.
The other members of the tribunal were Mr Nurudeen Alowonle Ogbara, Mr Jude Igbanoi and Ms Oluwadamilola Kesington who served as the Secretary.
The event was witnessed by the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaiye and Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa among other State officials.