Nigeria Police was established to protect lives and property.
What happened, last week, however, ran contrary to this creed as four persons in police uniform, operating in a bullion van, allegedly pursued a truck owned by a cement company, following which the driver lost control and rammed into some buses, crushing the passengers as well as some Okada riders and traders to death on Sagamu-Benin-Ore expressway.
It was a gory spectacle: The wreckage of the vehicles and horrifying mangled human bodies littered the scene. Sympathisers beholding blood stains everywhere threw themselves to the ground; anxiety gripped many people who were searching for their loved ones.
The accident, which claimed about 30 lives, occurred at the Mabolufon junction, Ijebu – Ode, Ogun State, also left dozens of people critically injured. Some of the victims, according to findings, were roadside traders and people who were waiting to board vehicles.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the remains of seven persons, including a pregnant woman, were deposited at the morgue of the General Hospital, Ijebu – Ode, while doctors battled to save the lives of over 20 persons said to be critically injured.
An eye witness said the ill-fated truck, with registration number, EDO RRU 33 XA, was allegedly being chased by the policemen in the bullion van as the driver reportedly drove against the traffic. In a bid to evade arrest, the truck crushed the buses which had stopped for passengers to alight at the Ijebu Ode junction. All the passengers in one of the buses coming from one of the eastern states were killed on the spot.
A traffic official with Ogun State agency, TRACE, disclosed that they were busy packing the corpses to the mortuary. “ The accident is pathetic. I have never witnessed such an ugly incident in my life. We have taken over 10 bodies to the mortuary, while the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, has taken over seven bodies. The ambulance of the Ogun State Accident Team has also taken many corpses and more are still lying there”.
Moments after the incident, some residents of nearby Ijebu Ode, Egbe, Atiba and Moraika, thronged the scene, lamenting the incident which many attributed to the careless driving of the driver of the truck. The truck, laden with fertilizers, was nearly burnt by the angry mob, but for the quick intervention of some policemen who were on the highway directing traffic.
The affected buses, a blue Mazda bus marked, Ondo KTP11 XA, and Toyota Hiace bus, marked, Lagos XW 530 GGE, had full load of passengers allegedly coming from Ondo.
Meanwhile, Ogun State Police Command has denied being responsible for the auto mishap. The State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Muyiwa Adejobi, said the truck driver allegedly responsible for the accident had been arrested.
Giving the driver’s name as Adeboye Adebayo, Adejobi said the driver caused the accident by entering the expressway from the Ikorodu axis of the road on top seed.
The PRRO said it was in a bid by the driver to beat a bullion van which was also on top speed along the express way that he rammed into oncoming vehicles.
‘’Putting the records straight, it was the bullion van (painted blue) that caused that accident”, he said. He added that Adebayo was making statement to the police on the incident. In the meantime, some survivors of the accident were facing threat of rejection by the management of the General Hospital, Ijebu Ode over failure to pay for treatment.
When Sunday Vanguard visited the hospital, it was gathered that the critically injured victims were being rejected by the nurses on the grounds of payments. The visit however served as the saving grace for the survivors as the rejection was reversed.
A deputy commissioner of police, Abdul Majeed Alli, who was on an on- the-spot assessment at the scene of the accident ,handed over an undisclosed amount of money to the management of the state owned hospital for the treatment of the victims.
But the driver of the ill-fated truck accused some policemen of causing the accident. “A bullion van with four policemen suddenly blocked me and asked me to park but I suspected they could be armed robbers. So, I did not stop. As I was running from them. I rammed into two buses and road side traders”.
The Ijebu zonal commander of TRACE, Commander Hamzat Tommy, confirmed that over 30 persons died in the accident, saying: “The number of the dead is about thirty something,a pregnant woman was involved. You need to see how the foetus rushed out, it was pathetic and gory.
“Young boys and girls were also involved, even Okada riders who we always advised not to stay on the expressway, see how some of them lost their lives because of what they wanted to eat. ”My boys worked till very late in the night, evacuating corpses from the scene.”
Narrating how the accident happened, the Sector Commander of the FRSC, Ayobami Omiyale, said,”I was told that the truck lost control due to over speeding as it was gathered that the police were chasing the driver for driving against the traffic. In the process of escaping, the truck ran into the waiting buses and crushed the passengers to death.”