What happened at the Babcock University junction on the Sagamu /Ijebu-Ode Road, Ogun State, on Wednesday, July 22, 2009 between policemen on one hand and transporters and passengers on the other hand is better witnessed than imagined.
It was like a fairy tale, but it was true.
It was a day some policemen came down hard on some transporters for failing to ply the road at the night, thereby, denying them the opportunity to make some money from the usual extortion.
Daily Sun gathered that for daring to ‘starve’ them during the night, the angry cops insisted on collecting N1,000 from each commercial bus driver, whether luxury or small. Drivers of small vehicles who were unfortunate to be on the spot during the period of madness, were not spared. In the past, a lot had been written and said about some bandits who used to wear police uniform to rob road users at night within the same vicinity. Most affected were newspaper circulation van drivers, who have to drive in the night to distribute newspapers to different parts of the country and commercial bus drivers.
Some of the drivers have had cause to recount their ordeals in the hands of robbers in police uniform, operating in Sagamu and neighbouring towns.
But the recent incident was different, as the policemen, who were already aware of the ban on night journey and, in fact, the supposedly enforcers of the ban, began to scold and harass drivers for arriving the area about 6:15a.m, instead of running between 10 p.m and 2 a.m.
Daily Sun gathered that what the drivers usually do was to leave Lagos about 9 p.m and to park their vehicles before Sagamu, only to continue the journey about 6a.m, for fear of being attacked by the bandits in police uniform. It was further learnt that it has become the practice by the drivers, to now move in convoy.
An eyewitness told Daily Sun that more than 30 drivers of luxury buses and many drivers of trucks and small vehicles decided to call the bluff of the policemen and refused to pay the N1,000. The drivers’ action incurred the wrath of the angry-looking policemen, who at a point became violent. According to him, the policemen began to ask: ‘Why didn’t you pass here in the night? You will pay us N1,000, for denying us our rights.’
He explained that they began to shoot into the air, to intimidate the drivers to part with money but to no avail. The policemen were said to have shot at the tyres of a bus and wounded one of the passengers in the process. The action was said to have provoked the drivers and passengers, who used vehicles to barricade the road as a mark of protest, resulting in traffic bottleneck.
Mr. Dan Anumaka, a passenger in one of the buses, said he had to discontinue the journey to the east and came back to Lagos, as the fracas lasted for several hours. Many people allegedly sustained injuries while a Jetta Executive car marked, DA 387LSD, belonging to the police and a small house located in the bush, suspected to be the policemen’s hideout were set ablaze.
When the angry passengers, drivers and mob stormed the building, they were shocked to find condoms, pants, female shoes, wallets, among others.
An Armoured Personnel Carrier(APC) with registration number NPF 676C was later brought to the scene to douse the tension.
Lamenting the incident, Anumaka decried the nefarious activities of the robbers in police uniform and suggested that a combined team of policemen and soldiers be drafted to the Babcock junction, which he described as a black spot.
He, however, appealed to the government not to lift the ban on night journey. Narrating what transpired between them and the police that fateful night, a driver with Evergreen transport company, who gave his name as Chiboy, disclosed that when the drivers refused to pay the N1,000, the policemen shot at his vehicle before shifting attention to another one and ordered the passengers to alight from the bus. “It was at this time that they shot one of the passengers,” he said.
Another driver, who simply identified himself as Henry also narrated how the policemen tortured him. He wondered why the police could carry two guns each. “Who owns the extra guns we found in the bush,” he queried.
Kelvin, a passenger in one of the luxury buses belonging to Izu Chukwu Transport said: “The condoms we found in the hideout is a proof that they are not here to protect life and property, but To Molest innocent women.
Another passenger, Linus, appealed to the government to deploy a team of soldiers, naval personnel and more policemen to the area as it was done at Night Mile-Benue Road, arguing that it would help reduce crime rate in the area. Meanwhile, the angry drivers have appealed to the police authorities to save them from the hands of the policemen, whom they accused of being responsible for robbery attacks in the area, and to bring those behind the July 22, 2009, incident to justice.