One person was confirmed dead yesterday as hoodlums engaged officials of the Lagos State task force on environment in a fierce battle over clearance of shanties around Ijora bridge.
The battle spread quickly to the Lillypond Truck park, also located in Ijora, a development which led to the setting ablaze of vehicles which belong to the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA).
Although the identity of the deceased could not be ascertained, different sources confirmed to our correspondent that yesterday’s fracas was an escalation of the face-off between state officials and the hoodlums, some of whom either leave in or have shanties around Ijora, close to the NPA truck terminal.
Another source however confirmed to our correspondent that the deceased was a truck driver who should be in his early 20s.
The truck terminal was recently converted to a truck transit park by the NPA for use by truck drivers as one of the means to further decongest the approach to Lagos ports.
One source confirmed that the Lagos environment task force had come on Wednesday to commence demolition and removal of the shanties. “They were attacked and chased away by the hoodlums, they even shot at the officials on Wednesday”, he confirmed to our correspondent.
The source who claimed to have witnessed the fracas confirmed that, the area boys became more daring when the government officials accompanied by armed Policemen arrived at Ijora to commence demolition of the illegal structures around and under the bridge.
“These people engaged the Police and it escalated. Later the hoodlums moved into the Lillypond truck terminal where they started destroying everything in sight, inducing NPA vehicles”, he disclosed.
The eye witness said: “When the Lagos State Task Force came on Wednesday, they were arresting those women selling food and drinks under the bridge and the boys at the scene prevented them from arresting the women hauling metals at them and in the process, they shut tear gas and went away with about two or three women”
“So they left peacefully, so I am surprised that the same Task Force came back today(Thursday) but with reinforcement which led to a clash between the Task Force and the area boys.”
Another eye witness told Shipping Position Daily that she was almost caught in the mayhem. “I was almost caught in the web while on my way to the office. I just think we should join hands together and stop activities of area boys around the ports, especially under the Lillypond bridge. I saw one area boy on the bridge with bottles in both hands, walking towards armed police on the bridge”, she said.
As at the time of filling this report, the entrance gate to the Lillypond terminal and a police Hilux van was on fire.
While reacting to the development, the Chairman of Amalgamated Truck Owners (ACTO); Mr Olaleye Thompson also corroborated the report that the fracas was between hoodlums and officials of the Lagos State Task Force on Environment.
He also dispelled an earlier rumour that it was a fight between truck drivers and officials of the Presidential Task Team on Apapa Gridlock.
He said: “It was the Lagos State Task Force on Environment that operated under the Lillypond bridge. Whether anybody likes it or not, Lillypond under bridge must be cleared of street urchins”.
Similarly, the Vice Chairman of the Presidential task team in charge of easing traffic at the port, Mr Kayode Opeifa informed our correspondent that the face-off was between the hoodlums and the Lagos State task force.
"The faceoff is not between the Presidential task team, but against the Lagos state government, and I think the reason for the face-off is as a result of the recent clean up that is being carried out by the Lagos State government”.
Condemning the attack, General Manager, Security of the NPA, Mr. Olumide Omotoso, said that the Lillypond facility has been shut down temporarily pending when the situation will be brought under control.
Omotoso said: “There is commotion and crisis in one of our facilities, Lilypond Transit Truck Park and we had to come to do an on-the-spot assessment to be sure of what the actual situation looks like.
“The Police has waded-in and we do not want to jeopardize investigation, we are on top of the game and we have restored normalcy”.