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Friday, June 3, 2011

Motorcyclist loses legs for refusing to give N1000 to police

Monday May 30 turned out to be a day of pain for a motorcyclist who refused to part with N1,000 as requested by a team of policemen at Berger-Under bridge along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway in Lagos. The motorcyclist had his two legs shattered by a truck laden with an unhooked container which ran into him while he was engaged in a shouting match with the policemen over their extortionist demand.

The incident happened around 1.30pm on a day many Nigerians took a break to celebrate Democracy Day which fell on Sunday May 29. The action of the police men was another costly defiance of the oft repeated promise by Police authorities to curb illegal police road blocks and extortion. In Lagos, in particular, many innocent lives had been sent to their early graves while several others were maimed during tragic situations resulting from road blocks.

The passenger-carrying motorcyclist whose name could not be ascertained as at press time was said to be coming from Kirikiri Town when he encountered the police men who mounted a road block at Berger-Underbridge. They stopped him on account that his passenger was not wearing a crash helmet.

The police men thereafter pounced on him and tried to pry the motorcycle’s key out of his hand as the passenger was asked to disembark from the bike. The policemen then reportedly demanded N1,000 from him, threatening to take him to their station if he refused to pay. The motorcyclist was said to have pleaded with the officers to let him go, saying he had not made up to the amount of money being demanded due to low passenger patronage. But the policemen were not impressed by his plea; they became more infuriated and insisted on taking him to their station.

As this was going on, the container truck with plate number XT 609JJJ, which was descending from the Kirikiri side of the bridge reportedly lost control and veered towards the motorcyclist and his passenger.



But while the passenger succeeded in jumping out of harm’s way, the motorcyclist was not so lucky. The container fell off the truck and the cyclist soon found himself trapped under it, with his legs being crushed by degrees.

According to eye witnesses account, one of the policemen, a female, ran to the nearby bus-stop to mobilise sympathisers who rushed to the scene and succeeded in rescuing the motorcyclist after several hours of trying.

At the end of the day, the motorcyclist’s had his two legs broken. He was rushed to a nearby hospital while the driver of the truck escaped unhurt.

But for the timely intervention of other uniformed officials, the police officers would have been attacked and possibly lynched by a mob of motorcyclists and angry sympathisers. The mob, however, set the “offending” truck ablaze and tried to engage the police men in a showdown.

When Vanguard Metro arrived the scene around 2pm, sympathisers were still battling to pull the victim from under the container as his colleagues angrily berated the Nigeria Police for their excesses, while calling on government to do justice on the issue.

A motorcyclist, Gafari Ibrahim, said the incident would have been averted if there was no road block at that spot. ‘’How can a road block be mounted in this kind of place? In any case, the issue of helmet is supposed to be the responsibility of Road Safety officials and not the Nigeria Police,’’ he said.

For some other sympathisers: “The man was injured because he could not pay the N1,000 the police men demanded’’.

The policemen, however, declined to comment on the issue when Vanguard Metro approached them.

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