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LASTMA Officers Kill Driver, Abandon Family As Lagos Government Boycotts Funeral

LASTMA Officers Kill Driver, Abandon Family As Lagos Government Boycotts Funeral

The remains of the commercial bus driver who died after a fierce struggle with an officer of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, was laid to rest on Thursday.

Isaac Popoola, 54, died on Christmas Eve inside his vehicle after the LASTMA traffic officer banged his head, repeatedly, on the bus’s door as he struggled to clutch the steering wheel.

Two weeks after the incident, the deceased’s family said that state government officials had not reached out to them.

And during his funeral ceremony at his Akowonjo residence where Mr. Popoola was laid to rest, there was no government representative.

“There is no sign of condolence. I feel very very bad because this is ungodly. There is no justice in this country as far as I’m concerned,” said Ibukun Popoola, 26, the deceased’s eldest son.

“Since his death, the governor even if he is too busy, he ought to send a delegate, somebody to just pay his own condolence to my father. The LASTMA officials, none of them came. It is disappointing,” Ibukun added.

The officiating minister at the funeral, Julius Otumilara, while describing the deceased as “a godly man” asked the family to leave judgment to God.

“The Lord is the judge, so let’s leave judgment to God,” Mr. Otumilara, pastor at Foursquare Gospel Church, Akowonjo, said.

Modupe, the deceased’s wife, listened attentively, occasionally shaking her head and spreading her arms, as the preacher’s voice ebbed and flowed.

When it was time to pay the last respects; she joined a horde of sympathizers as they walked around the opened casket, momentarily gazed at her husband’s dead face, shielded by a white transparent cloth, walked away and wept.

The faces of her four sons, clad in white shirts and black pants, were a blank mask throughout the four hour ceremony.

“It has been appointed for man to die once, after that it’s judgment,” Mr. Otumilara’s voice thundered over the din of the generator.

An indifferent state

Ibukun said that he was overwhelmed by the goodwill of their church as well as family and friends who had stood beside them in their grief.

“My mum, it’s been very hard (for her). The breadwinner has left, it’s not easy for her and the family,” Ibukun said.

“A phone call from the governor or state government is enough.

“I feel disgraced as a Nigerian because in other countries, such things cannot just happen and the government immediately not do something.”

Hours after the incident, LASTMA issued a statement saying that Adesanya Olatunde and Oludele Ogunride, the officers involved in the incident, “acted on their own contrary to the operational guidelines of the agency.”

When contacted on Thursday, Bola Ajao, LASTMA’s Public Relations Officer, told PREMIUM TIMES that the agency had handed the officers to the police and “we’ve been co-operating with them.”

When asked if the agency had reached out to the family of the deceased, Ms. Ajao responded by asking if the reporter had spoken with the family.

After she got an affirmative answer, she said “I’m sorry I can’t talk about that. I’m driving now. Call me back later.”

When she was contacted later, Ms. Ajao simply said that the “agency was not aware that the man was buried today.”

Tributes to a “very nice man”

Mr. Popoola’s colleagues at the Oshodi Under Bridge garage declared Thursday a work-free one as a mark of respect to their departed chairman.

“The man was a very nice man. And that is why we did not work today and we are all here,” said Chibie Ikemba.

“There is no one who will not want to honour him as a person, not to talk of the fact he was our chairman. I wish the government will allow justice to reign in this matter,” Mr. Ikemba added.

Tunde Saka, another colleague, said that he lived in the deceased’s house for 15 years “without paying a kobo.”

“I slept under Oshodi Bridge for a long time till I met Baba. Then he took me in and built a small room for me in his compound,” Mr. Saka said.

“If government will compensate for his death, N100 million is not enough because so many families depend on him. Even till now, I still depend on him.

“They killed a wrong man. They killed somebody that the society should celebrate because of his character and benevolence,” Mr. Saka added.

For Sunday Fakomilogbon, a mechanic who uses the deceased’s compound as his workshop; life wouldn’t have been the same without him.

“He used to repair his vehicle where I was an apprentice. That’s where I knew him,” said Mr. Fakomilogbon, who has been living with the deceased since 1996.

“When I finished and had nowhere to start, he helped me. His compound became my workshop and he brought all the clients I have today,” he added.

Aremu Salau, the deceased’s bus conductor, said that his boss would have been alive if help had come early.

“Baba would not have died if he got help early but the LASTMA officials kept saying he was pretending. They wanted to force the door open but the door was locked and while pulling him, they hit his head on the door,” said Mr. Salau.

“Passengers were also demanding for the man’s offence because he didn’t do anything. But immediately he fainted, they all ran away and there was nobody to help me,” he said.

Musibau Majolagbe, a driver at the garage, urged the government to unsure that the deceased’s children are taken care of.

“If not for the respect we have for Lagos State government, LASTMA officials that would have been killed in retaliation would have been many because this man mean so much to us,” said Mr. Majolagbe.

“He is the reason we, who people called riff-raff, are what we are today.”

 

Isaac Popoola, 54, died on Christmas Eve inside his vehicle after the LASTMA traffic officer banged his head, repeatedly, on the bus’s door as he struggled to clutch the steering wheel.

Two weeks after the incident, the deceased’s family said that state government officials had not reached out to them.

And during his funeral ceremony at his Akowonjo residence where Mr. Popoola was laid to rest, there was no government representative.

“There is no sign of condolence. I feel very very bad because this is ungodly. There is no justice in this country as far as I’m concerned,” said Ibukun Popoola, 26, the deceased’s eldest son.

“Since his death, the governor even if he is too busy, he ought to send a delegate, somebody to just pay his own condolence to my father. The LASTMA officials, none of them came. It is disappointing,” Ibukun added.

The officiating minister at the funeral, Julius Otumilara, while describing the deceased as “a godly man” asked the family to leave judgment to God.

“The Lord is the judge, so let’s leave judgment to God,” Mr. Otumilara, pastor at Foursquare Gospel Church, Akowonjo, said.

Modupe, the deceased’s wife, listened attentively, occasionally shaking her head and spreading her arms, as the preacher’s voice ebbed and flowed.

When it was time to pay the last respects; she joined a horde of sympathizers as they walked around the opened casket, momentarily gazed at her husband’s dead face, shielded by a white transparent cloth, walked away and wept.

The faces of her four sons, clad in white shirts and black pants, were a blank mask throughout the four hour ceremony.

“It has been appointed for man to die once, after that it’s judgment,” Mr. Otumilara’s voice thundered over the din of the generator.

An indifferent state

Ibukun said that he was overwhelmed by the goodwill of their church as well as family and friends who had stood beside them in their grief.

“My mum, it’s been very hard (for her). The breadwinner has left, it’s not easy for her and the family,” Ibukun said.

“A phone call from the governor or state government is enough.

“I feel disgraced as a Nigerian because in other countries, such things cannot just happen and the government immediately not do something.”

Hours after the incident, LASTMA issued a statement saying that Adesanya Olatunde and Oludele Ogunride, the officers involved in the incident, “acted on their own contrary to the operational guidelines of the agency.”

When contacted on Thursday, Bola Ajao, LASTMA’s Public Relations Officer, told PREMIUM TIMES that the agency had handed the officers to the police and “we’ve been co-operating with them.”

When asked if the agency had reached out to the family of the deceased, Ms. Ajao responded by asking if the reporter had spoken with the family.

After she got an affirmative answer, she said “I’m sorry I can’t talk about that. I’m driving now. Call me back later.”

When she was contacted later, Ms. Ajao simply said that the “agency was not aware that the man was buried today.”

Tributes to a “very nice man”

Mr. Popoola’s colleagues at the Oshodi Under Bridge garage declared Thursday a work-free one as a mark of respect to their departed chairman.

“The man was a very nice man. And that is why we did not work today and we are all here,” said Chibie Ikemba.

“There is no one who will not want to honour him as a person, not to talk of the fact he was our chairman. I wish the government will allow justice to reign in this matter,” Mr. Ikemba added.

Tunde Saka, another colleague, said that he lived in the deceased’s house for 15 years “without paying a kobo.”

“I slept under Oshodi Bridge for a long time till I met Baba. Then he took me in and built a small room for me in his compound,” Mr. Saka said.

“If government will compensate for his death, N100 million is not enough because so many families depend on him. Even till now, I still depend on him.

“They killed a wrong man. They killed somebody that the society should celebrate because of his character and benevolence,” Mr. Saka added.

For Sunday Fakomilogbon, a mechanic who uses the deceased’s compound as his workshop; life wouldn’t have been the same without him.

“He used to repair his vehicle where I was an apprentice. That’s where I knew him,” said Mr. Fakomilogbon, who has been living with the deceased since 1996.

“When I finished and had nowhere to start, he helped me. His compound became my workshop and he brought all the clients I have today,” he added.

Aremu Salau, the deceased’s bus conductor, said that his boss would have been alive if help had come early.

“Baba would not have died if he got help early but the LASTMA officials kept saying he was pretending. They wanted to force the door open but the door was locked and while pulling him, they hit his head on the door,” said Mr. Salau.

“Passengers were also demanding for the man’s offence because he didn’t do anything. But immediately he fainted, they all ran away and there was nobody to help me,” he said.

Musibau Majolagbe, a driver at the garage, urged the government to unsure that the deceased’s children are taken care of.

“If not for the respect we have for Lagos State government, LASTMA officials that would have been killed in retaliation would have been many because this man mean so much to us,” said Mr. Majolagbe.

“He is the reason we, who people called riff-raff, are what we are today.”

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