A truck driver, Muhammad Adejumo, was on Saturday assaulted by some council officials who mounted a roadblock at the Isheri Roundabout in the Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Adejumo said the men, who claimed to be collecting levies on behalf of the Egbe/Idimu council, hit him with a rod while trying to stop him from driving past them.
Our correspondent, who witnessed the incident around 11pm, observed as the men, numbering about 10, wielded sticks and demanded money from truck drivers plying both sides of the road.
While some of the truck drivers handed out cash to them, others sped past them.
Those who refused to pay were violently hit with sticks.
Adejumo, who was hit in the head, confronted the officials and demanded the reason for their action.
The driver, who spoke to our correspondent, said it was his first time of driving through the area.
He said, “I was driving all the way from Abeokuta towards the roundabout when I saw them. Since I did not know who they were and what they were up to, I slowed down so that I could park. That was when they started hitting me with their rods. Am I a thief or is it an offence to go about my legitimate business while driving on a government road?”
Another driver, Afeez Adekanbi, showed our reporter the injuries he sustained after being hit in the face.
Adekanbi, a member of the Trailer Drivers Association of Ogun State, said, “See how my nose is swollen up. If they want to collect a levy, they should notify those plying the route for the first time and we will inform our leaders about it, instead of beating us that way.”
PUNCH Metro observed as some truck drivers, who refused to pay the money, swerved dangerously to avoid the officials, who wore reflective jackets.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotosho, said the state government did not authorise anyone to mount a roadblock on the road.
He said, “Anybody who mounts a roadblock in Lagos is doing an illegal thing and the law frowns at that. It is only the police that have the right to stop vehicles because of what Mr Governor had directed security agencies to do due to the recent anxieties about security in the state.
“We will ask the local government chairman if he asked them to mount the roadblock. But I can assure you that no local government chairman will ask people to block roads.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, said the command was not aware of any roadblock in the state.
He said, “If there is such, we urge residents in that area to report to the station. Anyone assaulted should report to the nearest police station.”
The Chairman of the council, Kunle Olowoopejo, did not respond to calls or a text message sent by our correspondent to his telephone line as of the time this report was filed.