Some eyewitnesses on Monday insisted that a female banker, Yinka Johnson, accused of crushing an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, was not culpable.
Detectives attached to the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation visited the crime scene on Monday for an on-the-spot assessment.
But as soon as the team arrived, scores of eyewitnesses told the detectives, led by Mr. Solomon Ogochukwu, that the LASTMA official was crushed by a commercial bus driver while he was attempting to cross the road.
One of the witnesses, Simon Eze, said, “The banker was driving against traffic and was attempting to navigate to the other side of the road when she was accosted by LASTMA officials.
“The lady pleaded with them but they were adamant. Even one man in a red car alighted from his vehicle to plead with them but the officials refused and went to get a towing vehicle.
“As one of the officials attempted to cross the road, he was crushed by a commercial bus but he did not die on the spot. The LASTMA officials suddenly blamed the banker and accused her of killing their colleague.”
The witness said the commercial bus driver whose vehicle was damaged, stopped for a while but later sped off.
Another eyewitness, Ilonze Benjamin, said the LASTMA officials could be careless at times in their bid to enforce traffic laws by jumping in front of moving vehicles.
Benjamin described the spot where the accident occurred as “very dangerous,” adding that many people had lost their lives on the spot.
He said, “The LASTMA official was not crushed by the lady. He had seized the car keys and was attempting to cross the road when he was hit.
“The modus operandi of LASTMA extortion is that they seize car keys of errant motorists and walk far away from the vehicle so that the motorist will follow them. After the motorist follows them to a corner, they collect bribe and allow the culprit to go.
“Those LASTMA guys have been doing this for a long time now but unfortunately, the deceased did not look well when he was crossing the road.”
PUNCH Metro observed that detectives and LASTMA officials set up objects on the road to illustrate how the accident occurred, while pictures of the scene were also taken.
But an unidentified LASTMA official insisted that the banker crushed his colleague.
As witnesses pointed out inconsistencies in the official’s claim, one of the officials burst into tears, accusing the witnesses of conspiring against the officials of the agency.
“Many of these so-called eyewitnesses were not there when the incident occurred. My colleague was killed by the woman. It’s because members of the public don’t like us that is why they are ganging up against us,” he said.
A resident, who craved anonymity, urged the state government to install CCTV cameras along the expressway for security reasons.
“With the new traffic laws in Lagos State, CCTV has become necessary in order to save citizens from being framed by traffic officials and policemen,” she said.
Some of the witnesses later wrote statements and handed them over to the detectives.
The General Manager, LASTMA, Babatunde Edu, had in a statement on Friday – the day the incident occurred – accused Johnson of killing the official, Hameed Balogun, while she was driving against traffic along Lekki-Epe Expressway.
The GM had said, “Balogun was killed by the banker along the expressway while he was carrying out his official assignment at his duty post at Mega City, Ajah area of Lagos.
“The banker, an employee of IBTC drove in a Green Landrover SUV with number plate CY 276 LSD against traffic from Mega Chicken inward toll Plaza two and was intercepted by three officials of LASTMA.
“Johnson started driving recklessly in order to escape and in the process ran over the officer. The deceased was rushed down to Germaine Hospital where he later died as a result of injury sustained from the accident.”