Tuesday 25 December 2012

Christmas tragedy: LASTMA men beat bus-driver to death

A commercial bus driver, Isaac Popoola, on Monday died after being allegedly assaulted by two officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority in the Oshodi area of the state.
The bus conductor, Aremu Salawu, who witnessed the incident, said the LASTMA officials, Adesanya Olatunde and Oludele Ogunrinde, assaulted Popoola at about 6.30am around Brown Bus Stop resulting in his death.
He said the deceased’s bus with number plate, XL166SNK, conveying 17 passengers from Igando/Isheri was approaching Brown Junction when a LASTMA pick-up van crossed the bus.
The leader of the LASTMA officials, according to Salawu, ordered two of his men to impound the vehicle and take it to the agency’s office.
Salawu, who narrated the incident to one of our correspondents on the premises of the police Area F Command, alleged that Olatunde hit Salawu’s head against the steering and the door frame of the bus many times before he died.
He said Popoola, 54, was tussling for the steering with the LASTMA official, who resorted to using the metallic head of the seat belt to hit the driver’s head in an attempt to forcibly take over the bus.
Salawu said, “Baba (Popoola) held on to the steering asking what his offence was. But the LASTMA man (Olatunde) said it was his commander that ordered him to seize the bus.
“When Baba refused to leave the steering, the LASTMA man started hitting Popoola’s head against the steering and the door frame. He did this so many times, until he was unable to talk again.
“I then rushed to Mosafejo Police Station where I made a  statement and people who were watching the scenario were able to apprehend one of the LASTMA men (Olatunde). They brought him to the police station before we were transferred to to Area F.
“They did not tell him (driver) what his offence was because no passenger alighted from our bus at a wrong point and he used his seat belt.”
As at 4pm when one of our correspondents left the Area F Command, Salawu’s body was still lying in the bus.
It was observed that there were no bruises on the head of the deceased.
The 50-year-old wife of the deceased, Modupe, and his son, Ibukunoluwa, a graduate of Accounting from the Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State, along with other sympathisers were also on the premises of the command
Ibukunoluwa, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said he had just graduated and awaiting his call-up for the B Batch of the National Youth Service Corps in February 2013.
He said his father left their house at 16, Ojo Ogundana Crescent, Off Jimoh Akinremi, Jimoh Bus Stop, Akowonjo, early in the morning of Monday.
“I can’t believe I don’t have a father again. My father left home very early this morning, only for us to be informed by his mechanic few hours later that he had died,” Ibukunoluwa said.
The management of LASTMA has however dissociated itself from the incident.
A statement signed by the General Manager of the agency, Babatunde Edu, stated the errant officials acted contrary to the agency’s operational guidelines.
Edu said Olatunde was identified by the agency’s Provost Marshall and handed over to the police while Ogunrinde who was reported to be off duty as at the time of the incident was still at large.
He stated that the officials were in the area to carry out illegal operation.
“The arrested suspect (Olatunde) has been handed over to Mosafejo Police Station and eventually transferred to Akinpelu Police Station for further investigation; while effort is on to arrest other suspect (Ogunrinde),” Edu said.

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