Judicial inquiry hears ‘massacre’ at Lagos toll gate

Image copyright Justice Elias Yinusa/Twitter Image caption The body of a man identified as Francis Ajiboye is pictured lying on the road A judicial commission of inquiry has condemned the shooting of motorcyclists at…

Judicial inquiry hears 'massacre' at Lagos toll gate

Image copyright Justice Elias Yinusa/Twitter Image caption The body of a man identified as Francis Ajiboye is pictured lying on the road

A judicial commission of inquiry has condemned the shooting of motorcyclists at a toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria, as “a massacre” as it adjourned to take evidence on Thursday.

More than 40 motorcyclists were reportedly shot dead at the toll gate on 27 January.

Toll gates have in recent years become a major source of revenue for Nigeria’s states, but they have been criticised for being unfair and unsafe.

President Muhammadu Buhari is reported to have said he was “outraged” at the shooting.

Lagos state governor Akinwunmi Ambode held a closed-door meeting with Lagos State Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni on Wednesday.

“The committee chaired by Justice Elias Yinusa (who is a retired justice of the Lagos State High Court) has adopted the death toll of 39 motorcyclists as one of the most brazen acts of violence and terrorism committed in Lagos in recent times,” the commission said in a statement.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Nigerian News Agency reported that Lagos state Governor Akinwunmi Ambode held a closed-door meeting with Commissioner of Police Fatai Owoseni

The committee said that its “recommendations would form the basis for the submission of a report to the governor, and would be passed to the state government and will be used to evaluate the state of security in Nigeria’s commercial capital”.

They vowed to look into “the policies, situation and mechanisms put in place by government in the execution of its responsibility to ensure safety of lives and property in Lagos”.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption An appeal for help has been made from a family spokesperson

Thousands of lorry drivers have been charged to use the toll gates.

The hearing began on Wednesday and will resume on Thursday when they will give evidence into the shooting.

Abdulsalam Akarigbo, the family spokesman, said that last Monday, “two policemen beat our driver so badly that he started spitting blood. My nephew collapsed on the road and died instantly.”

He said the police ran over the dead man and carted away his motorcycle, without any blood evidence of the beating.

Last December, Human Rights Watch condemned the shootings.

“Toll gates are revenue-generating businesses, but they can’t become places where road users are massacred,” the organization’s Nigeria director, Mausi Segun, said.

Over the past few years, human rights activists have organised protests against the toll gates.

Local officials, who consider the operations central to their business and have built them up from scratch, say they must charge drivers to be able to provide essential services.

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