29th September, 2010
A witness in the ongoing inquest into the auto accident that claimed the lives of many along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway have blamed Police road checkpoint for the fatal accident.
On Sunday, 15 August, at least 40 persons allegedly perished in the multiple auto crash .The accident occurred after a trailer that was allegedly trying to evade police arrest rammed into a stationary vehicle at the police checkpoint near OtedolaÂ Estate in Lagos, NigeriaÂ and exploded.
The accident which occurred at about 12 noon, left over 19 vehicles including four commercial buses burnt beyond recognition while several people sustained burns and severe injuries.
The incident led to a massive traffic gridlock, as vehicles plying the route pulled to a stop, for fear of being engulfed by the inferno.
Testifying at the inquest set up on the accident, Mr. Olubusayo Asade told the Chief Magistrateâ€™s Court Coroner, Mr. Tajudeen Elias, that the impact of the accident would have been minimal if the police had not set up a road block close to the estate on that day.
Asade, a computer engineer, said during cross-examination that the road block mounted by the police caused the traffic jam which caused many vehicles and commuters to be affected by the accident.
According to him, he was on his way to Akure that Sunday and was less than 100 metres from the police road block when the bus behind him rammed into his car.
Asade said, â€œI am a resident of Festac Town, Lagos and I was on my way to Akure on August 15, in my fatherâ€™s Nissan Maxima, when the accident happened. I got to the checkpoint around 10.30am and the fire started when a truck owned by Dangote rammed into cars at the police checkpoint.
â€œI saw an inscription-DSR 164 boldly written on the truck, DSR stands for Dangote Sugar Refinery. When the truck hit the first car, other cars waiting to be passed by the police immediately caught fire, including my car. I escaped through the windows and between 20 and 25 cars were involved in the accident.â€
Asade said the policemen used tyres and sticks to block part of the road while he also saw their vehicle with RRS boldly written on it.
â€œBefore the firefighters came, about an hour after the fire started, the police had taken to their heels. I observed so many casualties, about 30 or more,â€ he added.
Asade said he was directed to Isheri Police Station a day after to make a report.
â€œI was given an extract two days later but I have not heard anything from the police, the government or any other person since then.â€
Asade pointed out in court that the police extract which was admitted in court did not contain details of his original report, where he wrote â€˜There was a police checkpoint at the scene of the incident.â€™
The District Coroner admitted as evidence two pictures taken at the scene of the accident-C1 and C2 respectively.
Present at the inquest were representatives of a non-government organisation , Access to Justice and lawyers from Falana Chambers, the state Police Command.
â€”Henry Ojelu & Tunmise Ige