Tanker drivers on Wednesday morning went on rampage in Apapa, Lagos, setting ablaze two commercial banks – Sterling and Diamond.
The tanker drivers were protesting the killing of their colleague by a mobile policeman.
It was gathered that the policeman, who was attached to one of the banks, had accosted and shot dead the driver for indiscriminate parking and blockade of the bank’s entrance.
According to eyewitnesses, the yet-to-be-identified mobile policeman had approached the drivers to give way to bank customers but they refused.
He reportedly fired several gunshots in the air but one of the bullets hit the deceased driver who bled to death.
While the policeman fled the scene, the deceased driver’s colleagues stormed Creek Road and stabbed any policeman on sight.
It was gathered that they injured at least three policemen, who were going about their businesses, before proceeding to set the banks ablaze.
Attempts by men of the Lagos State Fire Service, Iponri, who rushed to the scene to put out the fire, were rebuffed by the tanker drivers.
The firemen had to leave the area for fear of being assaulted by the enraged drivers.
It took the combined efforts of policemen from the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Area B command, operatives of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECEOFT and Nigerian Army Signal Corps to contain the situation.
The security operatives also prevented the rioters from setting a tank farm ablaze.
It was learnt that hoodlums attempted to seize the opportunity to loot the affected banks but they were prevented by RRS operatives led by the Commander, Tunji Disu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).
“Those tanker drivers are very irrational. When the policemen attached to one of the banks shot at the tanker driver, they regrouped and stormed the bank in anger.
“They first demanded that the policeman who shot their colleague be released to them. When their demands proved abortive, they took laws into their hands.
“They contributed fuel from their tanks and set the banks ablaze. The entire situation caused a stampede as both workers and bankers scrambled to escape from the back of the bank to safety.
“The drivers were still on rampage in the first bank when they heard that the policeman had taken refuge in the next bank.
“Armed with that information, they simply went over to the said bank and carried out same carnage, irrespective of the presence of innocent bystanders.
“They also attacked innocent policemen going about their own businesses. They stabbed no fewer than three policemen who didn’t know what was happening.
“Six of them were arrested. The mobile man was also handed over to the DPO Apapa. Calm has returned to the place now,” an eyewitness to the incident said.
Reacting to the arson, Sterling Bank said the mobile policeman ran into it premises to avoid being mobbed, urging customers at the branch to patronise nearby branches.
“An armed mobile policeman fleeing from an irate mob after shooting a tanker driver disrupted banking operations at the Sterling Bank branch on Creek Road this morning. He ran into the premises of the bank to escape being lynched.
“Security operatives attached to the bank disarmed and arrested the fleeing mobile policeman but did not hand him over to the irate mob.
“The mob got upset and attacked the bank with the intention of unleashing mayhem on staff and customers. The branch’s reception area was vandalized and set ablaze.
“The security operatives attached to the branch prevented the mob from entering the branch while evacuating staff and customers before the arrival of police reinforcement. The branch has been temporarily shut down.
“We wish to inform all our customers that normal services will continue at nearby branches and through all our electronic channels.
“Sterling Bank is working with security agencies to resolve the issue,” the bank said in a statement yesterday.
Truck driver shot by police not our member, says NUPENG
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) says none of its members in the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) unit was shot by a mobile police officer in Apapa on Wednesday
Chairman, South-West Zone of the union, Tokunbo Korodo, said this yesterday while speaking with newsmen in Lagos.
Korodo made the denial against reports that a tanker driver was shot dead during a fracas involving a mobile policeman, leading to two banks being set ablaze.
“None of our members is involved; they are busy with the normal loading activities in different tank farms.
“The shooting incident involved drivers of articulated vehicles and those involved in the lawlessness were not PTD members,” he said.
Zonal Public Relations Officer of NUPENG-PTD, Tayo Aboyeji, said the fracas involved some drivers of articulated vehicles, who are not NUPENG members.
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