By Christy Olanrele
Minutes after he received a call that his wife had put to bed, Tunde, a container truck driver was on Wednesday 19th July gunned to death by a trigger-happy policeman on Creek road, Apapa,Lagos. The incident spiralled into an orgy of violence and vandalism of the premises of Diamond Bank and Sterling Bank leaving property worth millions of naira vandalised by irate truck driver colleagues of the deceased.
The incident which happened around 9:30 am at Niger bus-stop where the deceased and his colleagues had been on a nerve-racking queue for about ten days hoping to access APM Terminal to load their cargo, was triggered by a mere argument over the parking of a truck between the deceased and the unnamed mobile police officer.
According to his colleagues, Tunde, moments after learning of the birth of his child, had paid for his friends’ breakfast of bread and beans after which he proceeded to his friend’s truck parked right behind his own just in front of the Creek branch of Diamond Bank.
“His own truck does not have a charging system, so he climbed into his friend’s truck to charge his phone. That’s how this mobile policeman, who was among the security men of Diamond Bank, asked him to reverse the truck away from the front of the bank. But Tunde told him he was not the owner of the truck and did not have the key and before you know it, gbam!, he shot our colleague in the head,” narrated a truck driver who witnessed the event.
Jarred by the gun shot report, truck drivers had rushed in droves to the gory scene and tried to lynch the kill-joy cop who reportedly successfully defended himself by spraying bullets freely all around him which forced the rampaging assailants to beat a retreat. He bolted to Sterling Bank about two hundred meters away where he found refuge. But the riled truck drivers chased him to the bank which was set ablaze after all entreaties to the Bank Manager to release the policeman fell on deaf ears. Somehow, he was spirited away to safety by his colleagues who were stationed in the Bank. Not placated by the arson they unleashed on Sterling Bank, the mob rushed back and torched Diamond Bank where the incident had happened.
When PortNewsNigeria visited the site of the incident, Fire Brigade officers were on hand to quench the fire while the policemen were on alert to mitigate the disaster.
Speaking to PortNews on the incident, the National President of Association of Maritime Truck Owners, Chief Remi Ogungbemi condemned the killing of the truck driver as dastardly and inhuman.
He blamed it on the volatile and inhuman environment in which the truck drivers work.” They are on queue for up to two weeks, no food, no bathing, no shelter and which is why a number of them have been dropping dead in recent times. What would warrant the taking of the life of a helpless truck driver by a policeman? I can’t understand,” lamented Ogungbemi who said the death of Tunde was a tragedy for the whole maritime industry.
On a positive note, howerver, Ogungbemi disclosed that efforts were frantically being made by a collaboration of Lagos State Government and the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to establish a sizeable holding bay for truck drivers.
“The General Manager Western Ports (NPA) Architect Abiodun Gbadamosi led a delegation to meet the Lagos State Commissioner of Transport at Alausa , Ikeja Secretariat where discussions took place on the holding bay problem. In the aftermath, today we went round to identify five prospective locations for holding bay and we are optimstic that we will solve this problem,” said Ogungbemi.