Pandemonium broke out in the Mosafejo, Oshodi-Isale area of Lagos State, after rival groups said to be members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, clashed on Tuesday evening and early Wednesday.
Four people were reportedly killed, while several others were injured in the fracas which was stopped after the intervention of security agencies.
It was gathered that no fewer than 15 commercial buses were set on fire, while 12 others were vandalised.
Makeshift stalls in the Mosafejo Motor Park were also torched, leaving traders in the park mourning their losses.
On a visit to the scene of the incident on Wednesday, the atmosphere was still tense as men of the Nigeria Police Force and some soldiers were observed patrolling the area.
The motor park, usually filled with vehicles, was deserted as the police armoured tanks and patrol vans took over the space.
Broken bottles, shards of glass from shattered windscreens and pebbles, said to have been deployed by some of the hoodlums during the fight, littered the road.
Bloodstains dotted the Oshodi Roundabout, where a man was said to have been shot dead and his corpse taken away by the police.
A vehicle was still burning as of 1pm when our correspondent passed the area.
Around the same time, a police van manned by police officers was observed taking some teenagers away.
A source said that the fight involved three groups ─ Big London boys, Railway boys and Under-bridge boys.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the fight started after the police ordered that there should be a stop in hemp smoking in the motor park.
The move was said to have been supported by the Big London boys, which brought them in conflict with the Railway and Under-bridge gangs who saw them as an ally of the police.
She said, “That was the beginning of the fight. The Railway boys and the Under-bridge boys usually conspire to wage war against the Big London boys which also had Olu Omo as a leading member.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), the allied gangs struck again and killed four people. One particularly was popular here and we call him Afari. A man was shot in the eye, another in the hand and leg. Several others are in critical conditions in hospitals.”
Another witness, who did not identify herself, said one Idris was cut with machete in the buttocks, leg and hand.
“No one knows if he will survive the attack because his condition is critical,” she said.
On a visit to the area where the Under-bridge and Railway groups had their camp, he met some of the men who alleged that the fight was sponsored by the Big London gang.
“It was around 11pm on Tuesday that they came here. They were many in the Big London group. They had the police backing them and they want to drive us away from here. They descended on our vehicles and set many of them ablaze which you can see for yourself.
“They shot and injured three of our people, who have been rushed to hospital. We don’t know why they are after us and this fight could have been bloodier, but we decided to be calm,” a man in the group, who did not identify himself, said.
Another member of the group, who equally declined identification, showed our correspondent an injury he sustained in his hand.
He said, “They shot at so many of us. This was where I was shot. Those guys were many. They shot at about 100 of us and burnt many buses.”
Some of the traders, whose stalls were burnt, appealed for government’s intervention.
Mrs. Taiwo Olajide, a mother of three and dealer in soft drinks, said she lost all her goods to the violence.
She said, “The hoodlums set fire on all the stalls in this park. They have ruined our business. This is where I feed my children and keep body and soul together.”
Another trader, Mrs. Josephine Eze, said all her provisions were burnt.
Our correspondent also observed a cross-section of traders who were seated in front of their shops, which were not affected by the fracas.
They lamented that they had not been able to operate their business since the area was cordoned off by the police.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Kenneth Nwosu, while confirming the incident, said one person was killed, adding that the police recovered some weapons from the hoodlums.
He said, “There was an attempt to breach the peace at Oshodi. The hoodlums, who were rival members of the NURTW, engaged in a fight of supremacy over control of parks.
“In the process, about eight vehicles were burnt and 10 vandalised. One person was killed. Five cutlasses and four expended cartridges were recovered. Normalcy has been restored as adequate security has been made to avert any further breach of the peace.”
Nwosu added that the police arrested nine suspects in connection with the crime.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Lagos State Council of the NURTW, Alhaji Tajudeen Agbede, has said the union will unravel the cause of incessant violent clashes in Oshodi.
He spoke on Wednesday while inaugurating a five-man committee to find out immediate and remote causes of the fracas in the area.
Agbede said the leadership of the union in the state would not fold its arms and watch some persons destroy the peace being enjoyed in the state.
He said, “We have been witnessing peace in Lagos State council of our union since my administration came in.
We have restored peace in all our parks, so we shall find out the cause of the present problems in Oshodi, with a view to finding a lasting solution to them.”
The Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, has said that the agency will no longer insist on any deadline for the enforcement of the new number plate.
Oyeyemi, who stated this on Wednesday in an interview with journalists when he paid a courtesy visit on Governor Theodore Orji at the Government House in Umuahia, said the agency would abide by the court ruling which restrained it from enforcing the proposal.
He explained that motorists who still had the old number plate would rather get the new ones when they go to renew their vehicle licences.
Oyeyemi said, “We will abide by the court ruling. It was a case of double taxation to be compelled to have the new one if your licence has not expired. It is a phase approach. If your driving licence expires, you go and renew it. It is a 12-month cycle. There is no deadline again.
“That does not mean that if you carry a fake number plate or driving licence that you will not be prosecuted, “ he said.
The corps marshal, however, vowed that the agency would not back down on the June 1, 2015 deadline for the enforcement of the speed limit device.
He said that by 2016, all imported vehicles in Nigeria must have speed limit device installed in them.
The policy, according to him, has become necessary because of the discovery that over 15.8 per cent auto crashes in the country was speed related.
Oyeyemi, however, noted that Nigeria recorded 25 per cent reduction in road accidents in 2014 and lesser incidents in January 2015, expressing the hope that with the new device, auto crashes would reduce by 80 per cent in 2016.
He called on state governments to set up traffic management agencies to man state roads so that the FRSC could focus on interstate and federal roads for more effective results.
The FRSC boss had earlier during an audience with Orji offered to train Abia traffic officers at the agency’s training school at Udi in Enugu State.
Responding, Orji appealed to the FRSC to assist the state to shore up its internally generated revenue through number plate registration and renewal of vehicle licence.
He frowned on the sharp practices of some syndicates who defraud the state of revenue through sale of fake number plates. He also advocated for the setting up of a joint task force to crack down on the perpetrators.
Orji said his administration had commenced expanding some internal roads in the state to accommodate more vehicles and lessen road accidents.
He thanked the FRSC personnel in the state for their efforts in reducing auto crashes, and pledged the continued support of his government for the agency.
The House of Representatives was on Tuesday thrown into a frenzy as federal lawmakers managed to avert a brawl between the Majority Leader, Mulikat Akande-Adeola (PDP, Oyo), and Hon. Irona Alphonsus Gerald (PDP, Imo).
Gerald, otherwise quiet and reserved, lost his cool as he menacingly walked towards Adeola-Akande, who was seated in the front row and engaged her in a verbal exchange all the while pointing an accusing finger at her.
Gerald spurned his colleague when he threatened to embarrass the House Leader if she did not desist from “defrauding” the lawmakers.
“I don't like it. This is not the first time you have done that to me. Stop it or I will embarrass you,” he said threateningly.
The confrontation prompted the Deputy Leader of the House, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta), who is traditionally seated beside Adeola-Akande to leave his seat, grab and push Gerald away from his boss.
All the while, the leader remained glued to her seat too petrified to respond to the verbal attack from Gerald.
At this juncture, other members quickly rose and took Gerald to his seat to prevent the situation from snowballing.
The bone of contention, it was gathered, may not be unconnected with the allegation that the presidency had offered money to aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmakers to persuade those who had lost out at the primaries to remain in the party.
President Goodluck Jonathan was said to have met selectively with the PDP caucus in the House last Sunday following the gale of defections by PDP lawmakers to the opposition parties.
Gerald, however, later declined to respond to inquiries on the matter, suggesting that the House Leader was best suited to comment.
When contacted, Hon. Adeola-Akande told newsmen that the issue had nothing to do with money arising from their meeting with the president.
Explaining that Gerald misunderstood what the meeting was all about, she said: “It was a simple matter of non-receipt of SMS for the caucus meeting. He complained to me earlier and I asked him to bring his phone number, which I left with my aide who handles such matters.
“And even when I did not get the SMS that he sent out and I had to call his attention again to this, and he (her aide) said it was a network problem. I asked him to re-send the messages because members were calling me to say they had heard about the meeting but did not get any notification.
“So it wasn’t only him (Gerald) who did not get the SMS
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved over $400 million foreign loans for Lagos, Rivers, Osun and Ogun states for the implementation of infrastructure projects.
The council however said the loans meant for All Progressives Congress (APC) controlled states, should not be seen as Greek gifts to sway votes.
Minister of State for Finance, Bashir Yuguda, Ministers of Aviation, Osita Chidoka, Water Resources, Sarah Ochekpe and Education, Ibrahim Shakarau, jointly briefed State House correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting.
Yuguda noted that Jonathan would not diminish his office with tribal or political sentiments, saying the president was desirous of bringing development to all parts of Nigeria no matter who resides there or which political party runs the state.
Yuguda stressed that the President did not barred any minister from facilitating or assisting any state government in the processing of any development loans, which is why the latest credit facilities to these states were brought to FEC for deliberations and approval.
"Like we have been saying over and over again and Like Mr. President is saying over and over again. He is the President of Nigerians. There is a distinction between governance and politics and Mr. President does not bring issues where they are not supposed to be situated.
"Now if we are improving the lives of the people of Port Harcourt or Lagos, these are Nigerians. So President is the President of Nigeria. He will not trivialize his office by neglecting one part of Nigeria because they don’t belong to PDP. That is not President Goodluck Jonathan.
"That is not what President intends to do and it is not what he is going to do if re-elected come March 28. What we are trying to say is that some of the opposition had been talking differently about this kind of approach.
"I can remember two weeks ago, one of the governors, Governor of Oyo, was attacking the minister of state, FCT.
"There is no way Lagos state or Rivers state or any of these states can get this facility without the support of the Federal Government by the President and then through federal ministry of finance.