There was chaos on Assbifi Road, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos State, after no fewer than 17 officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority engaged some residents and workers of an Information Technology company in a free-for-all.
A Youtube video which was viewed by Punch Metro showed that some LASTMA officials had attempted to tow away a car parked by the roadside for violating the state traffic law.
The car owner, later identified as Opeyemi Oni, was stopped from entering the car by a group of LASTMA officials, who insisted that it must be towed away.
After a few minutes, a tow truck was brought to the street, as the motorist protested and engaged the officials in an argument.
A colleague of the motorist, who approached another group of LASTMA officials, was attacked.
Oni was also manhandled by the officials, and he retaliated by hitting one of them on the body three times.
One of Oni’s colleagues was slapped four times by another LASTMA official after the man queried him.
The scene soon turned rowdy as the LASTMA officials overran the workers of the IT firm, beating up everyone in sight, including the security guards.
Oni told our correspondent on Thursday that he was treated in a hospital after the attack, adding that his car was towed away by the officials.
He explained that when he went to the LASTMA office, the management demanded N120,000 from him before the vehicle would be released.
He said he was charged N20,000 for wrong parking and N100,000 for assaulting a LASTMA official, adding that he was surprised at the charges because he thought he would be compensated for his injuries.
Oni said, “It was not the first time I will park my car there. The place is opposite my office and I was not blocking anything. I was in the office when it started raining and because I wanted to perform a transaction, I decided to pick my ATM card from the car.
“As I got downstairs, I saw a LASTMA official around my car. I was prevented from accessing the car. When I asked him what was wrong, he punched me.
“My colleagues came around to calm the situation, but they were attacked as well. A policeman later joined them and started hitting me.”
He said after his car was towed away, he reported at the Alausa Police Station, adding that police investigations revealed that the officials came from the Oshodi office of the agency.
The Divisional Police Officer was reported to have written to the management of LASTMA, directing that the officials be released to aid investigations.
A software developer, Nduka Ohadoma, who was slapped in the video, said five other workers were beaten.
“The first time he slapped me, my glasses fell off. When I asked him what I did wrong, he just continued the assault. Apart from me, five others were assaulted,” he added.
A female witness called on the government to investigate the incident and bring the officials to book, adding that the attack showed the highhandedness of LASTMA officials.
When contacted, the Public Affairs Officer of LASTMA, Mr. Mahmud Hassan, said the video was an abridged version of what truly transpired during the fracas, adding that LASTMA officials were chased away from conducting their lawful duties with knives and stones.
He said, “Motorists in that area are known for violation of the traffic law. We have sent our men there many times to educate them, but they refused to listen. We cannot allow indiscriminate parking of vehicles on the road.
“To avoid problems along that road, we provided two parking spaces for private cars. Also down the road, we created a space for another car park with road signs to lead them there. However, they continued to park on the two sides of the road, thereby causing traffic jam every time.
“On the day of the incident, other motorists had called us to restore sanity on that road. When we got there, we asked them to move their vehicles. While some voluntarily complied, others protested.
“While our men were removing the vehicles, they launched an attack against them. They tore their uniforms and assaulted them, using broken bottles and knives.
“Whoever uploaded that video on Youtube did not present the whole truth. We will continue to educate our men to approach scenes of action with civility and respect for motorists.”
The Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Olarinde Famous-Cole, confirmed the incident, saying investigations were ongoing.