INDEPENDENCE TRAGEDY: Mob attempts to lynch naval personnel over death of man

Lagos—Kirikiri area of Lagos, was yesterday, thrown into pandemonium,  following attempt by a  mob to lynch some naval personnel  whom they accused causing of the death of a conductor attached to a truck driver.

The deceased was reportedly crushed by the  truck he was attached to, while the driver, Ibrahim Salima, was reportedly  running away from   naval personnel stationed at the Kirikiri bridge, by Tokunbo car park road,  to control the perennial gridlock.

There were, however, different accounts to how the tragedy happened. A version of the account, alleged that naval personnel stationed there usually collect N500 from truck drivers who wait on the queue to get petroleum products from jetties, daily.

How truck conductor died

However at about 9am yesterday, Salisu  was said to have refused to part with the amount, an action that was taken as affront by the naval ratings. One of them was said to have chased the moving  truck, in the process of which he allegedly dragged the motor boy, identified as Abass Kasali,  out.

Unfortunately, Kasali   reportedly fell right under the truck and was crushed by the moving truck.

Another version of the account, said when the truck driver sighted the naval rating approaching, he reportedly jumped into the truck  started the ignition, with a view to vacate the illegal parking spot.  In the process, the conductor followed suit, but reportedly missed his steps and fell right under the truck, causing the tyres to run over him.

A  third  version also  had it that the truck had a break failure and in the driver’s bid to control it, it rammed into a commercial motorcyclist, killing him on the spot.

The incident reportedly sparked off a protest, as an angry mob reportedly descended on the  naval rating. Some of his colleagues who were on their way to work reportedly stopped to rescue him from the angry mob. But they were reportedly overpowered.

It took the combined efforts of armed military men,  including the Police to quell the situation.

Eye witnesses said: “The man was sitting down here (pointing to a position) when the tanker driver approached him to come and work with him, explaining  that his real motor boy was ill. It was not up to two hours that we saw him struggling with a known naval personnel who usually comes around to collect N500 from all tanker drivers. By  this time, the driver had  veered off his lane  in a bid to move. In  the process,  he hit a  car with the  number plate BX 941 ABC  and  a motorcycle with plate number KSF342 QE.

“Along the line, the rating succeeded in dragging the motor boy down from the truck. Unfortunately, he fell and had his head crushed by the tyres of the  truck and died  instantly.

“A mob held the naval personnel hostage and locked him inside a shop until the arrival of his colleagues who came and rescued him.  Tanker drivers and their conductors  started protesting the death of their member. But the Navy condoned off all routes leading to their barracks and shot sporadically to wade off the  protesters.”

When Vanguard arrived the scene, blood stained as well as particles suspected to be  the deceased’s skull were sighted on the spot.  The incident  worsened the traffic situation in the area, as vehicles remained stand still position  for the better part of the day.

However, when this reporter attempted to take shots of the scene, some men in plain clothes who identified themselves as naval personnel apprehended this reporter. Her phone was seized, as she was whisked into a waiting van, to a place where some uniformed naval personnel were, with threat from some of them to beat her up. It took the intervention of some officers of the ranks of Lieutenants to free this reporter from the the ratings.

Petroleum tanker drivers react

National spokesman of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers,PTD branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG,  Adebayo  Akande said, the deceased  was yet to be identified at the time of filing this report.

Akange also said the group had got in touch with the Naval Base in Satellite Town, noting that  investigation into the cause of the death of the conductor  was still  ongoing.

“The Navy has  also commenced its own investigation and both groups will compare notes at the end of the exercise,” Akanga said,  informing that the outcome of the investigation would determine the association’s next line of action.

Naval sources speak

Efforts to reach the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS WEY, whose jurisdiction controls the point, failed as he was not in the office when Vanguard called. But Naval sources debunked allegation that the ratings were extorting money from tanker drivers. Rather sources stated that the Ratings were stationed there to control the flow of traffic.

Naval sources said: “The Navy is not responsible for the death of the conductor as alleged. And  the Navy does not collect dues from tanker drivers. The dues  is between the tanker drivers and the  designated union Task Force.

“When the incident happened, our men were held hostage by a mob and in the process, they sustained injuries. Even when a reinforcement went for their rescue, stones were hauled at them, with the mob threatening to kill at least one of our men.  What we did was to fire warning shots into the air to disperse them and nobody died as a result of the bullets fired.

“The area is calm now. Driver of the truck , Ibrahim Salima,  has been arrested by the Police. We did not lose any of our personnel as widely rumoured. The Commanders NNS Beecroft and NNS WEY were at the scene to get on the spot information.”