Some of the students
According to a report by NewTelegraph, at least 16 students of Agidi Comprehensive High School are alleged to be in undisclosed hospitals, where they were rushed to after policemen fired canisters of tear-gas into their classrooms, while attempting to disperse protesting cyclists at the Ketu area of Lagos State.
The commercial cyclists, who were protesting incessant harassment by the police, marched to Agboyi Ketu Local Council Development Area, prepared to register their complaints.
NewTelegraph correspondent, who went to Ketu, learnt that some of canisters of tear gas landed in classrooms of the students, leading to some losing consciousness and others being hospitalised.
The principal of Agidi Comprehensive High School said that he couldn’t speak on the issue. He directed our correspondent to their district office at Maryland for further information.
Some of the students, however, recalled that they ran out after canisters of tear-gas landed in their classrooms. They noted that at least 16 of their mates were seriously affected by the teargas.
A student, who gave his name as Abiodun, said: “We were in English Class, when teargas landed in our classroom. Before we realised what was happening, we couldn’t see anymore. There was smoke everywhere. There was serious commotion as some students became unconscious. Our teacher rushed out and alerted the principal and other teachers. Some of the teachers used their cars to take the students to hospitals. The students were made to lie on the floor, while they were fanned. I thank God that I’m not among those on admission in the hospitals.”
Another student, who introduced herself as Dupe, said: “There are three different schools in the compound and all three were affected by the teargas. Our school was the most hit by the teargas because it’s close to the council building. It affected me, but I didn’t suffer much.”
It was also gathered that about 500 motorcycles, parked in different locations within the community, were impounded by the Police Taskforce Operatives. Several people were also alleged to have sustained various degrees of injuries.
One of the cyclists, Muhammad Al-Hassan, said that even though cyclists had been restricted from plying the expressway, policemen still continued to hound and extort them.
Al-Hassan said: “These policemen have turned us into Automated Teller Machine (ATM). On a daily basis, we give them money and also buy tickets from Union. The question is this; how much do we make? Last week Friday, around 6:30a.m, some of our colleagues, who were at the Alapere Estate to drop passengers, were arrested and seven of their motorcycles impounded. The following day, another set of policemen from Alapere Police Station came and impounded 15 motorcycles. Just within a space of two days, 22 motorcycles had been impounded. We cannot bear it anymore! That was why we staged a peaceful protest to the council.”
He further explained that the cyclists came together and agreed on the protest.
Al-Hassan noted: “We were outside, waiting for the council Chairman to come out of his office when suddenly we saw a team of policemen. They started firing canisters of tear-gas at us. We all left the council and went to our houses. A few hours later, we saw the taskforce team and policemen from Alapere Police Station, moving round the community. One of the policemen, named Ajibola, led the taskforce operatives to where we parked our motorcycles and they took everything away.
“At one Alhaja’s compound at Mile 12, about 97 motorcycles were taken, in another compound, 100 motorcycles were taken and moved to Alausa. These motorcycles were parked and their owners didn’t break any law. The police broke into people’s compounds to take those motorcycles.”
Another cyclist, Mr Uche Nwiboko, disclosed that majority of them may not be able to survive following the seizing of their motorcycles. He said that many cyclists have families, including aged parents depending on them. Nwiboko had three motorcycles, but all had been taken away by the police. He said: “Right now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do about my family and myself.”
He added: “We give police and our Union money. Unfortunately, if we have issue with the police, our so called Union members would not come to our aid. We are law abiding citizens of Nigeria. We’re not criminals!”
When our correspondent visited the office of the Chairman of Agboyi Ketu, to get his own side of the story, the council information officer said that he was not aware of any cyclists’ protest. The Okada Riders Welfare Association at Ketu also declined to comment on the issue.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Bala Elkana, when contacted on the incident of the students almost being suffocated by teargas from policemen and cyclists’ losing over 500 parked motorcycles to the police, said that he was not aware of both incidents. He however promised to make his findings and get back to our correspondent. But as at press time, he was yet to do so.