PUNCH Metro learnt that during the clash, which occurred on Wednesday, weapons were freely used by the two sides.
It was gathered that the operatives had stormed the community around 2am after getting information that the cart pushers stayed there.
The officials were reportedly packing the carts into three trucks when their owners, who had mobilised, attacked the operatives.
An official of the agency, who did not want to be identified, said they were surrounded by the cart pushers who attacked them.
He said, “The state government gave the corps a mandate to seize any cart found in the state and arrest the cart pushers. Usually, the confiscated hand carts are taken to the yard of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority for crushing, while the operators are arraigned before a mobile court.
“We had got information about the presence of the cart pushers in a slum in the community. Around 2am on Wednesday, we went there and found many of them, including hundreds of hand carts. We were packing the carts into the trucks when the hoodlums attacked. It was like a war. They shot at our officials and used cutlasses and other weapons. Our men also fought back as tear gas was thrown at us. Two of our men were injured.”
He identified the injured operatives as Wasiu Elegushi and Odu Saheed, adding that they had been taken to a hospital for treatment.
The source noted that the operatives impounded 120 carts and arrested 35 suspects.
However, a resident said the operatives were the aggressors, adding that some money and phones were allegedly stolen from residents.
The resident, a community leader, who also did not want to be identified, said shortly after the incident, a formal complaint was made to the state government.
He said, “It is true that the government has banned the activities of cart pushers in the state. But you know some of the officials go beyond their brief. They raided the place around 2am when everybody was asleep. They threw tear gas at the people. Nobody shot at them. When they left, some of the business owners in the community said they were dispossessed of about N1m and phones. The officials were moving from one house to another.”
The Public Affairs Officer of LAGESC, Rahmat Alabi, who confirmed the incident, denied that money was stolen during the operation.
Alabi, in a statement on Thursday, said the Corps Marshal, LAGESC, ACP Daniel Isiofia (retd.), condemned the attack on the officials, who were doing their duties.
She said, “The corps marshal described them as potential terrorists because during the encounter with the LAGESC officials, they used different weapons, including guns, daggers and tear gas. He vowed that the agency would not be deterred by the empty threats of the cart pushers in the latest manner of unleashing terror on officers. It is pertinent to note that there was no looting as alleged during the attack.”
Meanwhile, the 35 suspects were on Thursday arraigned before the Special Offences Court (Mobile Court), Oshodi.
Our correspondent was told that they were arraigned on seven counts of assault, obstruction of duties, breach of public peace and wilful damage of three government trucks.
The suspects pleaded not guilty and elected summary trial.
The Chief Magistrate, Olajuwon Amos, admitted them to bail in the sum of N150,000 each with two sureties each in like sum.
According to Amos, each of the sureties should be gainfully employed and will deposit N10,000 into the mobile court account.
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