•Victims accuse tricycle operator
•No, mob did it –operators’ union boss
By WOLE BALOGUN
Four men in Alimosho area of Lagos State are critically ill in a private hospital following an acid bath allegedly by a commercial tricycle operator. The victims, Jamiu Akogun, Wasiu Ismail, Basiru and another yet-to-be-identified man said the suspect (name withheld) attached to the Command unit of the tricycle union in Alagbado-Ijaiye area of Alimosho Local Government Council poured the corrosive liquid on them during a fight.
But the chairman of the local union, Mr. Tajudeen Gbolagade, denied the allegation, saying that sympathisers who witnessed how the four men allegedly beat the suspect almost to a state of coma, might have done it to prevent them from killing him. Checks by Sunday Sun revealed that the problem started at Ipaja area of Alagbado when the suspect took on the four men for driving recklessly and almost hit him with their motorbikes.
Both parties were said to have hurled insults at one another, before the fracas that later involved other members of the tricycle riders’ union. It was gathered that during the free for all, someone appeared with a container containing the deadly liquid, poured it on the four men, and walked away. The faces, neck and back of two of the victims were seriously burnt and they are receiving treatment in a private hospital in Meiran, Ogun State.
Akogun whose face and neck were seriously burnt, told his story to Sunday Sun: “It happened on November 11. My colleagues and I were hired by a church to slaughter a cow for a thanksgiving service. Five of us rode on motorbikes and as we were about to negotiate a bend around the Ipaja area, the keke maruwa (tricycle) rider suddenly appeared and we almost hit him. He got down from the tricycle, walked over to us and accused us of wanting to hit him.
We advised him to avoid trouble and continue with his business but he refused and while the matter dragged on, some of his colleagues that were nearby, joined and they started bracing up for a fight. While we tried to resolve the matter amicably, one of his colleagues left the scene as if he wanted to make calls. Moments later, he re-appeared with a container and bathed four of us with acid. It was really painful. “Suddenly, we couldn’t see again and we went down, writhing in pain. Apparently not satisfied, our assailants clubbed us with planks until we ran away.
Somehow, they caught Bashiru and labelled him an armed robber, and dragged him to the police station. He was detained but when the police noticed the damage done to his face and back, they took him to hospital for treatment and started investigation. The rest of us were rescued and taken to the hospital by some sympathisers. We later learnt that the man who attacked us was arrested and detained at the Alago Police Station close to the area.” A witness, Baba Oba, corroborated Akogun’s story saying that he reported the suspect to his chairman at the Command unit. His words: “I recognised the man who bathed my four friends with acid.
When I went to report him at his unit in Command area, their chairman asked if I could recognise him among all the riders in the unit and I told him that I could. He allowed me to see all of them and I pointed at the culprit. The chairman said that they would hand him over to police and take care of my friends, but hinted that they wouldn’t accept that he did it.” The chairman of the unit, Mr Gbolagade, later told reporters that the suspect denied pouring acid on the victims. He said: “What we learnt was that the four men fought with our man and beat him almost to a state of coma.
The people around noticed what was happening and raised the alarm and that was when an unknown person appeared and sprayed the four men with battery water. It couldn’t have been acid water because when we learnt about the development, we took the affected men to the hospital and we are going to take care of their medical bills. “We have even told the victims that we would treat them in any other hospital where they could get better treatment.
It was unfortunate that such an incident happened. Perhaps if they hadn’t fought our man and beaten him mercilessly, no one would have thought of doing that to them.” When Sunday Sun contacted the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mrs. Ngozi Braide on phone on the incident, she told the reporter needed to contact the Divisional Police Officer in-charge of the area. “I will call the DPO of the station and then get back to you. Just let me call you back,” she said. But she was yet to do so as at press time.