A recent violent confrontation between officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) and some soldiers has resulted in injuries to at least 15 LASTMA officials. The crisis has prompted the withdrawal of LASTMA officials from their duty posts across Lagos State due to concerns about possible attacks by soldiers.
The dispute reportedly began last Friday in the Oshodi area of Lagos when a soldier, who was a passenger in a vehicle apprehended by LASTMA officials for a traffic violation, attempted to intervene. The soldier’s plea for leniency on behalf of the driver fell on deaf ears, leading to an altercation that escalated into a physical confrontation. In a viral video circulating on social media, a soldier in military attire was seen being subjected to physical assault by some LASTMA officials.
Following this incident, a group of soldiers retaliated by attacking LASTMA officials at various locations, forcing them to abandon their posts in the Oshodi and Ojota areas. The reprisal attacks extended over the weekend, with some individuals claiming to be soldiers assaulting LASTMA officials in plainclothes.
As news of the attacks spread, a significant number of LASTMA officials opted to vacate their duty posts in major areas of Lagos as a precautionary measure. One official at Ajao Estate was even spotted removing his uniform to avoid identification, highlighting the fears prevailing among LASTMA personnel.
Several LASTMA officials conveyed their concerns about the escalating violence and the lack of resolution from relevant authorities. They cited the need for retraining in human relations for LASTMA officials and emphasized the urgency of addressing the situation to prevent further escalation.
The Director of Public Affairs and Enlightenment at LASTMA, Mr. Adebayo Taofiq, indicated that an official statement addressing the issue would be issued in due course. In response, the spokesman for the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col Adebisi Ayeni, acknowledged the incident and confirmed that an investigation into the matter is underway.
The clash between LASTMA and soldiers underscores the importance of maintaining civility and effective communication among different government agencies, and it highlights the need for prompt resolution to prevent a further breakdown of law and order.