There was panic on Wednesday on the Long bridge and Kara ends of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ogun State, as hoodlums attacked motorists again.
This is the second time within the space of 24 hours after the state police command described earlier reports of an attack on the bridge as fake news.
PUNCH Metro had reported that miscreants around 6am on Tuesday robbed motorists of their laptops, phones and other accessories, as many abandoned their vehicles and scampered for safety.
The state police spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the state Commissioner of Police, Lanre Bankole, had deployed policemen in the area to ensure hoodlums did not take advantage of the gridlock created by the ongoing reconstruction of the road.
However, a motorist, Ibrahim Odebunmi, who called our correspondent at 6.08am from the expressway on Wednesday, said people had started fleeing their vehicles.
Odebunmi, who also experienced the attack on Tuesday, sent a video from the scene to our reporter.
The video showed commuters stranded on the Longbridge as gunshots rang out.
He said, “I had to abandon my vehicle and take my keys and phone. At the Warewa Junction, we heard gunshots but some people were saying they were the police. The robbers were at the front of the Mikano company.”
Another eyewitness, Adeoye Makinde, lamented the absence of policemen at the scene.
He said, “I was on the Longbridge going inside Lagos when I met the traffic. It wasn’t long when I started seeing people running from the back as if they were going to Lagos. Everyone in my car panicked. Over 40 people ran past us and we didn’t see any policeman.
“I expect that when I get here today (Wednesday), I should see policemen since it was reported that an attack happened here yesterday (Tuesday)”
Also, a government worker, Emmanuel Ottun, said some people got hurt during the incident.
He said, “We were already approaching the Kara Cattle Market when we discovered that people were alighting from their vehicles. Some of them got hurt in the process as they jumped out through the windows of their vehicles. The vehicle conveying me had to make a U-turn and proceeded on one way back to Ogun State.
“When we got to Warewa, we learnt that people had already got information about the robbery as we saw them at a standstill. After about 20 minutes, we learnt that the armed robbers were done with their operation, and that was when we continued on our journey to Lagos. When we got to the point where the robbery took place, I discovered that there were already two police vans on the other side of the bridge, outward Lagos. I don’t know if it was the arrival of the police that stopped the robbery operation.”
A commercial driver, who identified himself simply as Joseph for security reasons, said he initially left his bus to run for his life but returned 25 minutes later.
He said, “By the time I returned to where I parked my bus, my passengers refused to return to the bus; they all chose to trek despite my appeal. They didn’t enter the bus neither did they pay me for the distance I already covered.”
The driver further said in the cause of trying to make a U-turn, some motorists crashed their cars against the road divider.
“Some of the victims of the attack claimed to have heard repeated gunshots, but I heard gunshot just once; it sounded like a bomb,” he added.
The President of the Arepo Central Community Development Association, a community close to the Longbridge, Bode Adefolu, lamented the situation.
He blamed the attacks on the traffic, which he said was caused by the slowness of the construction work on the expressway.
He said, “We have had situations like this in the past and we put in interventions. For instance, we’ve had extra hands in terms of security personnel to support the policemen patrolling the expressway and that had been laid to rest.
“But what has brought about this is the construction work that is coming to our axis which has created a bottleneck on that expressway. The construction is causing traffic on the expressway. So, we are looking for people that can mediate between the Federal Ministry of Works and Julius Berger to speed up the job they are doing. Their work is taking too long.”
Adefolu, whose community members mostly work in Lagos, urged the Federal Government to install streetlights on the Longbridge.
On his part, the Chairman of a security council in Warewa, Olarenwaju Falade, said the Warewa Divisional Police Officer had an emergency security meeting over the matter.
He said, “Before now, we formed the Warewa Security Council after a series of kidnappings on the Longbridge as a result of vehicles breaking down, not traffic. The council assisted the police in supplying personnel of So-Safe Corps who we paid to complement them. That was why incidents of robbery and vandalisation were reduced.
“Unfortunately, after Julius Berger was done working on that section of the expressway, a lot of communities stopped funding the support. So, the DPO has now called for a meeting to appeal to communities to continue to support it because it was helping all of us.”
The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the latest attack.
He said, “There’s construction work in that place, which causes traffic. We have a 24-hour surveillance patrol there but the police cannot be at every point at the same time. The attackers took advantage of that to dispossess some commuters.”
He added that the Warewa DPO and the Lagos Rapid Response Squad later came to rescue the situation on the bridge.
Oyeyemi said the assailants escaped through a bushy part under the bridge as he assured motorists and residents that the hoodlums would soon be apprehended.