For the better part of Wednesday, Mobil area in Ring Road was deserted following a clash between hawkers and staff of the Ministry of Environment who went there to dislodge the people doing business by the roadside.
Trouble started around 11 am when the officials of the ministry arrived and started chasing the people who had been warned not to display their wares. Eyewitnesses disclosed to Street Journal that in the course of chasing the traders and commercial motorcycle operators in the area, one of them ran across the road and got hit by a kerosene tanker which killed him instantly.
The young man’s instant death angered the traders and they turned against their pursuers. A witness disclosed to Street Journal that a policeman who came with the Ministry staff to enforce the eviction of the traders was seen chasing the man who got hit by the tanker. The policeman reportedly hopped into the next available bus when he saw what befell the man he was pursuing.
According to the witnesses however, an argument ensued between the policeman and the driver of the bus. Street Journal found out that the driver refused to ferry the policeman out of the place for fear of being attacked and losing his vehicle . Immediately the crowd that had gathered saw the policeman alighting just a few metres away from the Mobil Bus Stop, they gave him a hot chase, caught up with him around Oni and Sons Bus Stop and coerced him to enter a vehicle apparently in order to take him to the police station.
Meanwhile, the mob had pushed a pick-up van belonging to the Ministry of Environment on its side.
The group taking the apprehended policeman to the station was reportedly met by a police armoured personnel carrier and a number of policemen who came in patrol vans. The fact that the apprehended policeman was now free irked the mob and charged the atmosphere as they watched from the other side of the road. The policemen fired tear gas canisters to disperse them while they retaliated by hurling stones at the policemen. It took a number of shots in the air to keep the protesters away from the police and Ministry of Environment workers. While the police stood on one side of the road, the protesters gathered on the other side.
Just before they were dislodged, one of the protesters moved close to the nearly upturned pick up van and torched it.
Street Journal met the Commissioner for Environment, Alhaji Wasiu Dada at the scene. He confirmed to Street Journal that three of the Ministry of Environment staff that came to work in the area were attacked and had been taken to the hospital. He however disagreed with the notion that the accident was caused by the attempt to dislodge the traders and the resistance they put up. The commissioner said the tanker which was coming from the High Court end lost its brakes thereby causing an accident.