A policeman and an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority created a scene on Wednesday at the Lekki Phase 1 end of the Lekki-Epe Expressway when they engaged each other in a public fight.
We learnt that the incident happened around 9am as motorists and residents hurry to their places of work.
Two video clips of the incident, which were posted on Instagram by a witness, @neighborhoodclothing, showed the two officials pushing each other on the median, as other policemen and LASTMA officials tried in vain to separate them.
The policeman could be seen shoving, kicking and punching the traffic official in the short video clips.
“It happened around 9am just opposite the entrance into the Lekki Peninsula Scheme 1. I was driving to work when I witnessed the incident. I observed that there was first an argument between the men. Suddenly, one grabbed the other and they started fighting. I couldn’t find out what happened between them,” the poster of the video later told our correspondent on the telephone.
An official of LASTMA in the area, who did not want to be identified, said that the policeman involved in the scuffle was in a commercial bus that had been impounded for violating a traffic rule.
He explained that the policeman picked offence, alighted from the bus and started an argument with the official.
He said, “The policeman felt the LASTMA official disrespected him by impounding the bus and he decided to alight from the bus to challenge him. That was what started the argument, which degenerated into fisticuffs. The bus driver used the opportunity to drive off from the scene.”
The spokesperson for LASTMA, Mr. Mahmud Hassan, said it was a minor disagreement which had been settled, adding that the action of the two officials were, however, condemnable.
He said, “To forestall such misunderstandings and altercations, LASTMA has been making efforts to boost the synergy with all security agencies in the state.
“This was what informed our visits to their formations in order for us to have improved relationships and open a channel for sorting out issues based on mutual respect.
“Although what happened was unfortunate, misunderstandings of this nature cannot be overruled in human interactions. The matter has been settled by the parties involved and we have all moved on.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said he had seen one of the videos, adding that no policeman was involved in the scuffle.
He said, “Yes, I have seen the video. I did not see any police officer in that video.”
However, the videos, which had gone viral on many social media platforms, have drawn public ire against the officers.
On Instablog, one of the clips had been viewed more than 76,789 times within eight hours of the posting.
An Instagram user, Ozor Christian, said, “All of them are showing power. Sadly, common sense did not tell them that they were both working for government. I recommend psychiatric evaluation for all officials of government.”
Another poster, Chinwe Gift, said the operatives might be fighting over money.
“Big man gave police officer and LASTMA officer money. Mr. police officer wanted to take the highest amount, which resulted in a fight,” she wrote.
Another user, Cheenyeacah, said, “When people who are supposed to maintain law and order disregard it, what do you expect of citizens? It is well with us.”
A user, monisolarr, who claimed to have also witnessed the fight, said only a fraction was captured in the video.
“The tussle was more than this; motorcycle riders came to show support too. It was a big show of shame this morning,” the user said.
Another poster, stewartaustin6242, said, “The law enforcement officers in Nigeria do not love each other or work as one body. Remember that some months ago in Calabar, it was Nigerian Navy vs Nigeria Police, and lives were lost.”
One Kalightbaba65 called for sanction for the officers to “serve as a deterrent to other unscrupulous officers out there.”