Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, is currently experiencing an uneasy calm following the outcome of last Saturday’s presidential poll which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) eventually on Wednesday announced President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner.
Apparently enraged with the announced result, some unidentified armed group allegedly shot into a crowd celebrating President Buhari’s re-election in Sabo, Yaba, killing one person, while a police officer was seriously injured by some protesting youths in Okokomaiko, Lagos.
But a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Bode George, is blaming a chieftain of the APC for what is playing out in Lagos.
George has cautioned former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu, against what he described as the harassment of Igbo residents in the commercial city, warning that the action of the ex-governor could trigger another civil war.
The PDP stalwart has frowned seriously at the recent use of thugs, hired urchins and low-lives to harass and unleash mayhem on the people of Eastern Nigeria residing in Lagos.
According to him, ‘’this clearly ill-advised jungle justice on fellow Nigerians whose offence is basically the fact that they voted according to their conscience is capable of provoking a reprisal attack and a greater cataclysm that may graduate into a fury that no one would be able to control.
‘’Since yesterday I have been talking to various stakeholders from the East to be restrained and calm and not to let the unfortunate incident widen into another violent scenario that may consume the nation itself.
‘’I am appealing to President Buhari to call Tinubu to order lest his reckless penchant of mobilising thugs against all perceived enemies does not ricochet into the tragedies of 1962 and 1963 which eventually triggered the Nigerian Civil war.
‘’Lagos is a mini Nigeria. It is the most accommodating and the friendliest entity in the Nigerian space. We welcome everyone with vivid embrace and with sincerity of purpose. We are the Nigerian melting pot, encouraging traders and various merchants to bring their gods for sale.
‘’We do not discriminate. If we had discriminated against Tinubu himself, he could never have risen to the level of relevance which he has achieved today in our Lagos. We need peace in Lagos. We do not need hired hands sponsored to disrupt business activities of fellow Nigerians.’’
The gunmen allegedly opened fire on the celebrating crowd at Iwaya area, killing one person on the spot. Police Spokesman in Lagos, Chike Oti, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) who confirmed the incidents, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the police officer was attacked by some protesting youths on the Lagos–Badagry Expressway.
Oti said that policemen, led by the Divisional Crime Officer, Sunday Oyekanmi, a Superintendent of Police (SP) were appealing to the youths as they were causing heavy traffic on the highway, pointing out that while the policemen were appealing to the youths to leave the road, the youths attacked them with machetes and sticks during which the DCO was seriously injured and he collapsed.
‘’Many thought the DCO was dead, but the DPO of the station took him to the hospital where he was revived. He is responding to treatment now. He is not dead. The area is calm now. The Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Zubairu Muazu, has warned that the command will not tolerate any attack on his men who are working to protect lives and property in Lagos’’, Oti said.
Continuing, he said 37 youths have been arrested for allegedly attacking policemen at Okokomako, and taken to the State CID, Panti, for investigation, adding that police detectives were on the trail of the suspect who shot dead one person in Yaba.
On the skirmish on Lagos Island, the police claimed there was no crisis between Yoruba and Igb0 traders as being spread on the social media, saying some areas boys were having misunderstanding among themselves and the police went there to stop them before it degenerates into a full-scale crisis.
‘’The area is calm, there is patrol everywhere. Members of the public should disregard any rumour of crisis in Lagos Island’’, the police spokesman said.
In the mean time, a report by the Daily Sun said two persons were feared killed on Wednesday while many others, including policemen were injured when street urchins went on rampage in some parts of Lagos, attacking traders and other road users in the process.
According to the newspaper, the crisis erupted in the Alaba-Rago area of Ojo and on Lagos Island.
The Alaba-Rago crisis started at about 8.30am when some street urchins blocked the Mile 2-Badagry expressway to celebrate the victory of President Buhari, but the celebration turned bloody when some of the hoodlums started manhandling road users and traders.
A witness, Jude Maduagwu, said that some youths, who were in large numbers were celebrating Buhari’s victory in last Saturday’s presidential election when violence broke out.
Maduagwu said the youth, most of whom were commercial motorcycle operators (okada riders), blocked the Mile 2-Badagry expressway and started manhandling passersby.
Tajudeen Muyideen, a commercial bus driver, said that he made a detour when he sighted the blockage and bonfire on the road made by the hoodlums. He noted that the hoodlums who were armed with cutlasses, clubs, daggers and other weapons and were beating and robbing motorists and other road users.
Chiamaka Udemadu, a trader at the Alaba International Market, said that the news of the fracas forced traders to close shop: “Two persons allegedly died while several others, including a policeman, sustained injuries. The hoodlums, after committing the dastardly act, started marching from Alaba to Okokomaiko, singing songs of victory in celebration of the President’s victory.”
The trader said that the youths were chanting “Sai baba, sai baba,” and, when they got to Okokomaiko, they resumed destroying traders’ wares, which caused many of the traders to run for safety, leaving their wares behind.
“They marched to the police division and when policemen on guard tried to stop them they attacked them. I heard gunshots and I was later told that a policeman was killed by the hoodlums. I also heard that it was the army that helped to restore peace in the area.
“You know that ndigbo own virtually all the shops in the area; that was why people were saying that Hausa people were attacking the igbo. It is not that the people deliberately attacked ndigbo, not really, it was the issue of misplaced priority by those celebrating who started making trouble,” said another witness.
When Daily Sun visited Ojo, policemen attached to the Rapid Response Squad (RRS,), the Nigerian Army, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and several police patrol teams were on ground. Shops at the Alaba Rago Market were still closed, a few roadside traders, however, had started displaying their goods.
Meanwhile, on Lagos Island, hundreds of miscreants, popularly known as area boys, went on rampage again, warning traders not to open their shops and forcing those who had already opened for business to close shops.
The area boys were alleged to have accused the traders of not voting for a particular candidate and political party. The miscreants, armed with weapons such as cutlasses, broken bottles, wood and knives, struck at about 9am in areas like Oluwole, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tinubu, Bamgbose and Alli streets.
A victim, Ogechi Obodozue, told Daily Sun: “Some of us were beaten with specific instructions that we must close shop and that the shops must remain locked as punishment for not voting for a particular party. The threat made us traders to quickly close our shops and we are standing far away to witness what is going to happen to the shops. I think the people want to intimidate us and put fear in is so that we will not be bold to come out to vote in the upcoming governorship election. We need heavy police protection in the markets, churches and during the governorship election.”
However, the coming of policemen to the areas on the order of the Area ‘A’ Commander, Bode Ojajuni, saved the crisis from escalating.
Lagos State police spokesman, Chike Oti, who confirmed the Alaba Rago incident, said that upon the receipt of the information policemen were deployed to the scene on the orders of Police Commissioner Muazu Zubairu.