CHECKPOINTS OF DEATH: When Will Onovo Stop This Carnage?

•Top Photo: L-R: Scenes of the accident in Lagos that sent shock waves round the world. PHOTO: OLATUNJI OBASA.

Nigerians have expressed their anger over the carnage policemen always cause at checkpoints on the nation’s highways and they are asking when the Inspector-General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo, will call his men to order and dismantle the checkpoints.

•Top Photo: L-R: Scenes of the accident in Lagos that sent shock waves round the world. PHOTO: OLATUNJI OBASA.

The outrage came in the wake of another avoidable tragedy caused by a police checkpoint mounted on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway yesterday.

The accident left over 25 people dead, some burnt beyond recognition. Several vehicles were also burnt.

According to eyewitnesses, immediately the accident occurred, the policemen who mounted the road block fled the scene and were pursued by people around the scene but the cops managed to escape.

At the time of writing this report, the policemen had not been fished out by the Lagos State Police Command. Some of the witnesses said the policemen came from Isheri Police Station while some claimed they were a team from the Rapid Response Squad, RRS.

When P.M.NEWS called at Isheri Police Station this morning, a senior police officer said officers from the station don’t mount  road blocks.

“We don’t mount road blocks. We do not have the capacity to mount road blocks. The accident was not caused by us even though the place is within our jurisdiction,” he said.

The officer said the information they had was that the truck driver was on top speed, lost control of the vehicle and it rammed into a commuter bus. The impact, according to him, was what caused the fire outbreak that ignited other vehicles.

The Police Public Relations Officer for Lagos State Command, Frank Mba, also debunked the claim by eye witnesses that the incident was caused by the police.

“You know that where the incident took place is a slope and it is a disaster for any vehicle to lose its brake in that kind of place.

“There was no policeman at that place before, during and after the incident. We do not know why people are going about with such stories. That conclusion is hasty and unnecessary. We are investigating and after our investigation, we will come out with our findings,” Mba said.

But eyewitnesses would not agree with Mba. A driver identified as Rasheed Adeniji explained how the incident happened.

“ We were again in a serious traffic here on this spot this morning where the police officers usually collect N20 from us and pursue people coming with second hand cars. All of a sudden we just heard a big bang at the back. Before I knew it fire had engulfed the whole place.

“I quickly ran out of my vehicle and ran to the other side where I saw a trailer that rammed into the long queue of vehicles waiting to be cleared by the police officers. People started running helter-skelter. I looked around here and there and did not see the conductor, my own brother.

“I rushed back to the bus and which at this time was in flames with many other vehicles. I started shouting for help from people to rescue my passengers, about 18 of them, including my brother. As I am talking to you now, they could not come out, they all burnt to ashes.”

Another survivor, Isaac Ejiwere, said, “I heard bashing of cars from behind. When I got out of the vehicle to observe what was happening,  suddenly I saw a trailer engulfed in fire. We managed to escape.

“We would have been like one of these ones, if not for God. My vehicle is burnt beyond recognition and the car behind me over there has the charred body of a person trapped inside. What baffles me  most is the fact that the policemen who mounted this road block disappeared immediately the accident happened.”

Another eyewitness, who gave his name as Christian, said a five year-old boy and his mother died in the tragedy.

“The woman, who was driving the vehicle cried out to people to rescue her son. But nobody could go near the vehicle as the fire was intense.”

Accidents caused by police checkpoints across the country are numerous and the authorities as well as the inspector general of police don’t seem to be bothered about bringing the culprits to book.

In January 2008, the Principal, Ansar-ud-Deen Junior Grammar School II, Iseyin, Oyo State, Mr. Bolanle Balogun, was crushed by a mobile policeman who was driving a vehicle with registration number Lagos AR 04 AAA.

The name of the mobile policeman was later given as Gideon Adepoju. The policemen were said to be chasing a defiant commuter bus driver who failed to stop at a checkpoint mounted close to a sharp bend. While the bus driver escaped, the policemen lost control and hit the principal.

A senior teacher, Mrs. Riskat Sanni, described the late Balogun as God-fearing, gentle and peaceful. Chairman of the NUT, Mr. Waheed Gbadegesin and his ANCOPSS colleague, Mr. A.O. Adeogun, called for justice.

Similarly, confusion reign on the streets of Effurun and Warri, Delta State on 14 August, 2007 when a lorry ran over an okada rider near a police checkpoint. What actually transpired between the lorry driver and the policemen could not be ascertained.

Four others were killed in similar circumstances in Effurun. Okada riders, therefore, went on the rampage in Warri and Effurun to protest the killing of their colleagues.

On 14 July, 2009, five students of Government Secondary School, Tunjga, Maji were killed while travelling on the Zuba-Gwagwalada (Abuja)-Lokoja road.

Reports said a police van gave their bus a chase after the driver allegedly failed to stop at a checkpoint. But the students’ bus ran into a gully on the road and crashed. Four policemen on the chase also sustained injuries.

The Abuja-Lokoja highway was blocked for more than three hours after the accident as students of College of Education, Zuba protested the killing of the students who were said to be going  for the end of their school’s session prize giving day ceremony when the accident occurred.

Similarly, police road block accident was reported in Oba, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State in June 2010 when 20 commuters on Enugu-Onitsha road died.

Motorists protested the accidents when they blocked the Onitsha-Enugu road for many hours. The peaceful protest was later resolved by a joint team of policemen and the military.

However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Emeka Chukwuemeka, denied the loss of lives in the accident.

As a result of the accident, the Senate Committee on Police Affairs summoned the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ogbonna Onovo, the AIG Zone 9, Umuahia, Hafiz Ringim and the state Police Commissioner, Philemon Leha, to appear before it in Abuja.

Meanwhile, the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Oke Osanyintolu, has said that his men reacted swiftly to yesterday’s accident that occurred in front of the Jubilee Estate also known as Otedola Bridge.

In a SMS message to P.M.NEWS, Osanyintolu confirmed that 20 vehicles were burnt while several persons were burnt beyond recognition. 18 other casualties, he said, were taken to a trauma centre for attention.

—Moyo Fabiyi, Paul Dada & Rukayat Igbanor

11 COMMENTS

  1. My prayer is this for every Nigerian policemen right from their IG Onovo, Aig, lagos state or ogun state police commissioners who claim that their men don’t mount road block that caused the death of our innocent nigerian ,may their family experince similer tragdy in jesus name

  2. i felt so sorry for those involve in this accident. I think the police are the ones still pulling this nation back cause they involve in various kind of criminal act all in the name of securing the nation.I think it is time for the government ranging form the state government to the federal government to take a serious watch over the police and flush out the corrupt ones out so as to save the lives of innocent citizen of nigeria.

  3. for the police to claim there wasno policemen during the incident, but i have being to that place several time, and there is no time you don’t meet police there. they are always there causing traffic with their #20. i hate this nigerian police, they are all liars, they must be held responsible for the accident.

  4. Oh my people,oh my nation Nigeria,oh the nigeria police force! I joined the family of the lost ones to mourn their deaths.It is tearful and may their spirits rest in the Lord,amen.But,how come some pressmen could not do a geniuene job before rush into agreeing with those motor park men that it was the police checkpoint that caused the accident .To me and thousands of Nigerian that cross that road on daily bases,no police checkpoint ever seeing in that spot for close to two years now.That spot on both sides of the expressway is bedevilled with many kill over the year.Eventhough,police actions on that day deserves applause.Their prompt attention led to the rescue of some victims.Many could have been rescue before police came but for lack of ideas by the teaming unlookers.Nigerians must not fear to say the truth at anypoint in time.This story like many on pages of our news is out of truth,from the nearby fuel station one can see clearly how what look like a lost control truck rammed into vehicles going slowly and a few moment later the strong smokes finally caught fire.Now it took GOD protection to reduce the level of the numbers of motors and people involved which many believed could have gone high

  5. fellow nigerians for how long are we going to fold our hand while our prophet &prophetess die in vain,it is high time we arise and put an end into these

  6. Nobody derserves this kind of death, this whole carnage is avoidable; that some individuals do not mind making the life of others short in order to make money is an attitude our society must discourage.

    Anybody could be a victim of these policemen greed, police duties are being carried out in India most populous cities, in crime prone Los Angeles and Detroit, nobody is mounts this kind of dehumanizing or killer check point where people are made to forefeit their lives for nothing every now and again

    We should all speak with one voice and say no to these killer check points, intelligence gathering and motorized quick repose to crime scenes is the known most effective mode of crime management world wide.

  7. I would like to give a good round of applause to Mr. Frank Mba for a good job well done.LIES! LIES!! LIES!!!.It is rather unfortunate but that is what he is employed to do,giving the Nigerian cops a good image even when they are on killing prowl.I know if he is reading this,his conscience is and will always judge him.What would he have said if his cousin,brother,sister,god-son or god-daughter is or are involved in the terrible incident,I’m most certain,either the police authority ensures he does not handle any publicity issue regarding the incident or they simply “ORDER”him on an immediate overseas training course.
    If Mr. President is reading this,i have a few recommendation to make regarding the killings and unfortuante incidence caused by the men and women of the Nigerian Police Force.

    1. Every and any ugly incidence that occurs as a result of negligence of the officers on duty or “off duty” (as the case is with road blocks),the station DPO should be recalled to ABUJA and detain until full investigation is carried out.He/She must not be allowed the freedom to influence or determine the outcome of the report on any investigation regarding “ALLEDGED” offences committed by their officers.

    2. Every and any force officer discovered or found to be involved,have knowledge of or initiate anti-civil operations,must be recommended for immediate dismissal,irregardless of cadre.Meanwhile the incumbent DPO, DTO, ANTI-CRIME AREA COMMANDER(as applicable to RRS,SARS,etc)shall be made to partake in the punishment meted out to such officer(s).No low ranking(junior) law enforcement agent or officer can be bold enough to mount road blocks,initiate or administer covert operations without the knowledge of the supervisory and higher ranking officers in their respective domains.

    With these punitive measures in place,I AM WILLING to place a bet that most police “illegal”checkpoints will become a rarerity within weeks.

    If the LAW MAKERS fails to implement this measures,someday their parents,close relatives and loved ones whether home or abroad(surely they shall come home for end of year festivals)shall become victims of the very menace they failed to curb at conception.

    Meanwhile,Mr. MBA,PPRO of Lagos state command should be prepared to know soon and very soon,the “The fear” of ARMED POLICEMEN in the metro shall become a thing of the past as they will be challenged FORCE for FORCE any time their excesses resurfaces.

  8. This is a very poor statement from The police PRO.
    He has never said any truth since he assumed office.
    i just ask the families to find a place in their hearts to forgive us all.

  9. na wah for this country, last wednesday it was Abuja, sunday it was lagos. portharcourt and Kano please watch out and keep praying.
    2011 in the corner. he who have ears let him hear.

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