Suraj Oyewale: How overzealous policemen killed citizen Elijah (Y! FrontPage)

by Suraj Oyewale

When Lagos State government announced the restriction of commercial motorcycle operators (popularly known as okada) on major highways in Lagos state, I was one of the few people that endorsed the policy. I have seen and read many cases of deaths caused by motorcycle accidents on major highways that I believed it was an action long overdue. I don’t buy the argument that such policy is anti-poor as people have come to label it, like many other policies of Mr. Babatunde Fashola, the state governor. The rich man will not climb okada, so elite don’t die from okada accident. For me, nothing is more important than the safety of the poor. I was personally affected by the policy, principally by the foreclosure of “flying” bikes to short distances traffic congestion will not permit me to drive to within Victoria Island.  Yet I never faltered in my belief that the policy is a welcome one.

However, like many laws in Nigeria, the overzealousness of the enforcers has defeated the merit of such policy. Like the notorious LASTMA officers that throw every known rule of professionalism to the winds in enforcing the ordinarily commendable traffic laws in Lagos, no sooner had the LASG announced the okada restriction than the enforcing policemen went on rampage, chasing innocent okada riders even in areas not covered by the rule, including streets. The state government announced that the restriction is applicable only to major highways and went ahead to publish specific roads affected.


The Nigerian police officers have developed this habit of running away anytime they perpetrate this crime. This is why Lagos state government must bring the killers of Elijah to book.

I have looked at the LASG’s list of restricted roads and I did not see Addo-Ajah road there. Unfortunately, the policemen in this area have extended the law to cover this road. Yesterday, a known okada rider within my estate, Elijah, a young man from Borno state, lost his life in the process of avoiding these overzealous police officers on the Addo-Ajah road. I saw Elijah over the weekend and it was surprising to hear that he was the dead okada rider. According to accounts, the police had given the young man a hot chase until their van hit him. Rather than stop to take their victim to the hospital, the officers sped off on seeing what had happened, leaving Elijah to writhe in pain. With no help coming, the gentleman died.

The Nigerian police officers have developed this habit of running away anytime they perpetrate this crime. This is why Lagos state government must bring the killers of Elijah to book. It should not be difficult to fish out these agents of death if the government is sincere. The police stations in the area are known. Who were the officers on duty on that route at the time? The family of the gentleman that had come to Lagos to earn a living deserves justice.


One day in 2005, on my way from my Offa, Kwara State, home to my Ife, Osun State, school. I was dropped at Gbongan junction by a family car traveling to Lagos, and left to find a commercial bus going to Ile-Ife from Ibadan. I waited for like half-an-hour at the Gbongan junction before finding Ife bus. I got to school mid-day. Few hours later, I heard breaking news on a local radio station that one Alabi Hassan-Olajoku, a Lagos politician and supporter of governorship aspirant, Rauf Aregbesola, had been assassinated. Guess where? At Gbongan junction. Yes, same Gbongan I waited for at least thirty minutes in search of Ife bus. The incident happened less than one hour after I left same place. I was imagining where I would have fled to if I had not gotten a bus before the incident happened. To the bush? To the road? Stray bullets? Deliberate termination of lives of witnesses? Or even fainting from just sounds of gunshots? The report said Mr. Olajoku himself engaged his assailants to save his life. So it couldn’t have been an incident that happened within the twinkle of an eye.

Of course, the killing was political. It was at the heat of the battle for Osun Government House between the incumbent Oyinlola Olagunsoye and his challenger from Lagos, Aregbesola.

Mr Olajoku was one of the many casualties of the tug of war. There were more deaths, reportedly from both camps. There were fatalities in Ilesa, Ile-Ife and Osogbo. The Oroki Day celebration also turned into another battlefield between the supporters of Oyinlola’s PDP and Aregbesola’s ACN.

The war was also taken to the media. I followed with amusement, how my brother and senior friend, Mr. Lasisi Olagunju, Oyinlola’s media henchman, and Aregbesola/Tinubu’s literary undertaker, Mr. Joe Ogbokwe, engaged in creative media brickbats on the OP-ED pages of newspapers, dramatizing a whole book – Goerge Orwell’s Animal Farm – in the battle.

Now that both Aregbesola and Oyinola are back in same camp, is it not a lesson for die-hard supporters of politicians that there is no permanent enemy? So why go for a kill in defence of any politician whose enmity with his opponent is only temporary? Truth is, no politician is worth killing or dying for. A word is enough for the wise.


Suraj Oyewale is a chartered accountant, blogger and public analyst. He is the Founder of JarusHub Career & Management Portal. He tweets from @mcjarus

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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