A clash between officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and soldiers has left at least 15 of the traffic officials wounded, prompting some to withdraw from their duty posts to avoid further confrontations.
The incident that sparked the ongoing crisis occurred last Friday when a driver, whose identity remains undisclosed, was allegeded to have violated a traffic rule. LASTMA officials apprehended the vehicle and were preparing to impound it when a soldier intervened on behalf of the driver. His appeal to allow the driver go without citation went unheeded, escalating the situation into fisticuffs between the soldier and the LASTMA officials.
A video circulated on social media showed a soldier being flogged by LASTMA officials.
— Regency Reporters (@Regency_NG) August 15, 2023
Shortly after, a group of soldiers retaliated by attacking LASTMA officials in the area, leading to a widespread withdrawal of LASTMA personnel from their duty posts.
Andrew James, a concerned bus driver who spoke with Vanguard, emphasised the need for improved human relations training for LASTMA officials, stating that regardless of the individual’s identity, such treatment was unwarranted.
The reprisal attacks by soldiers continued over the weekend in areas such as Oshodi and Ojota. Also, reports indicate that LASTMA officials were targeted by unidentified individuals claiming to be soldiers.
By 1 p.m. Monday, most LASTMA officials had left their duty posts across major areas of Lagos due to fear of further attacks. An official was even witnessed removing his uniform to avoid being identified.
Expressing his concerns, the official stated, “If anyone is killed in the process, nothing will be done. This is not the first time soldiers will attack members of other government agencies. Even when it resulted in the death of some policemen, nothing was done about it. This case should have been resolved by now by both authorities. It should not be allowed to escalate.”
Another official explained the withdrawal, saying, “We have withdrawn from the road because nobody knows where or when they will strike. We got a text from our platform to withdraw for our own good. But we were advised to stand-by pending when the matter will be resolved.”
Adebayo Taofiq, director of public affairs and enlightenment at LASTMA, responding to media inquiries, indicated that an official statement addressing the issue would be released soon.
Similarly, Adebisi Ayeni, the spokesperson, Nigerian Army’s 81 Division, confirmed awareness of the incident, revealing that an investigation is currently underway.