Three persons were reportedly killed when policemen and tricycle operators clashed in the Ijora area of Lagos during a protest on Monday.
The victims were said to have included a student, one woman in an Ilorin-bound vehicle, and a tricycle operator.
But in a swift reaction, the police public relations officer in the state, DSP Bala Elkana, denied the alleged shooting, saying no casualty was recorded.
He confirmed that policemen actually dispersed the protesters who, according to him, set up bonfires and attacked innocent citizens.
However, an eyewitness said the victims were hit by bullets as policemen attached to Badia Division shot sporadically into the air to scare the protesters.
Some tricycle operators and okada riders had reportedly gathered at the Ijora Causeway axis of Apapa Road, setting up bonfires to protest the restriction order on motorcycles and tricycles by the state government.
The protesters were alleged to have vandalised some vehicles, including that of a policeman.
Having been dispersed from the earlier spot, it was learnt that the protesters regrouped at the front of the secretariat of Apapa Iganmu LCDA, along Gaskiya Road, where they were also chased away by the cops.
“It was a violent protest because they attacked innocent citizens and we could not fold our arms to watch them perpetrate evil attacks.
“I am not aware of any casualty. From the brief I have gotten so far, nobody was killed or injured,” the police image-maker said.
Meanwhile, the command, in a statement, said it had arrested 24 suspects for causing unrest in Ijora part of the state by blocking major roads, causing obstructions.
The command, in the statement signed by its spokesperson, Bala Elkana, said the suspects were arrested on Monday at about 07.45am following a distress call received by the police.
According to Bala, information was received by the police that some hoodlums suspected to be okada riders and thugs, in large numbers and armed with cutlasses, had blocked some major roads around Ijora Oloye, Amusu, Ijora 7Up, Ijora under bridge, Sifa junction, and Gaskiya gangare area, all within the Ijora Badia Division.
Bala said: “The hoodlums caused major obstructions on the roads, burning tyres, looting and stealing from unsuspecting road users.
“Police officers from Ijora Badia, Area B Command and Special Strike Force were promptly deployed to the scenes.”
He, however, said the situation was brought under control and that the obstructions were cleared for free flow of traffic.
Bala added that no life was lost. “Investigation is ongoing; the suspects will be charged to court at its conclusion,” he said.
In other parts of the state, hundreds of protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘Create Jobs, Don’t Take Jobs’, ‘Sanwo-Olu, My Job is My Life’, and ‘Marwa Operators are not Criminals’.
Seun Adeleke, Chairman, National Union of Tricycle Operators, Yaba/Mainland, said the government’s decision was unfair as it would plunge many able-bodied young men into unemployment.
He said: “We are the ones that voted for this government and we need government to support us.
“Look at everybody here now, they want to work. In Yaba/Mainland, we have over 500 tricycle operators and we pay N200 daily to the council.
“So, we contribute to the economy and we want to continue to do that. Government should please look into this decision.”
Gbenga Omotosho, Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, had on January 27 announced the ban which, he said, came after consultations with stakeholders, the State Security Council, and in compliance with the extant Transport Sector Reform Law 2018.