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14 Feb 2019

Lagos-Ibadan road: Motorists groan as military men cause gridlock on ‘Long Bridge’

Motorists plying the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway have lamented the agony they are going through on a daily basis, especially on the ‘Long Bridge’ section of the road, due to the activities of some men in military uniform, who prevent vehicles from moving freely into Lagos State.

It was gathered that the men were naval ratings and were initially deployed on  the road last Thursday to prevent the entry of articulated vehicles into Lagos in preparation for President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit for the All Progressives Congress mega rally, but have remained on the road, extorting motorists and causing gridlock on the ‘Long Bridge’.

Motorists, who spoke to our correspondents on Tuesday and Wednesday, lamented the hardship they were suffering due to the activities of the ratings on the road.

PUNCH Metro observed that the expressway was blocked at the end of the bridge inward Lagos, causing some motorists to drive against the traffic, thus blocking the lane going out of Lagos.

A motorist, Francis Nwabueze, told one of our correspondents, “I am totally frustrated; I work in the Arepo area of Ogun State and on Tuesday, it took me almost two hours to get to the Berger end of the expressway before I could proceed to my area of residence in Ogba, Lagos.

“Tuesday’s gridlock was the worst as I left Arepo around 10.45pm but I didn’t get to Berger until around 12.30am on Wednesday; by the time I got to my area, the night guards had locked the gate and gone on patrol. I had to wait for another 25 minutes before they could open the gate for me. I eventually got home around 1.05am.”

Another motorist, who simply identified himself as Azeez, said the naval ratings were behaving in an unprofessional manner by preventing the free flow of traffic, while at the same time extorting fuel tanker and truck drivers after flagging them down right on the road.

He said, “It’s only God who is saving us in this country; imagine the catastrophe that is waiting to happen on this road. If anything should happen, hundreds of vehicles and thousands of motorists will be affected.

“If the military men were deployed to maintain security during the election period, then they have failed spectacularly! The truth is that they are not checking vehicles coming into Lagos. Anybody carrying arms into the state will easily evade their scrutiny because the men are only interested in extorting the articulated vehicle drivers. Arms and ammunition can easily be moved into the state in private vehicles, which are not the focus of the military men.

“In fact, they constitute greater security risk on the road as motorists and other users of the road are exposed to the risk of attacks by hoodlums in the gridlock that stretches several kilometres from the point where the ratings are carrying on their illegal activities. Whoever is responsible for posting them here should recall them immediately.”

The personnel, who were in the unified military uniform, were first thought to be soldiers of the Nigerian Army, but when one of our correspondents visited the spot where they were stationed, it was observed that they were naval ratings.

The Deputy Director, Nigerian Army Public Relations Officer, 81 Division, Bonny Camp, Victoria Island, Lagos, Lt-Col Olaolu Daudu, said the men were not personnel of the Nigerian Army.

When the Information Officer, Western Naval Command, Lagos, Commander Chinwe Umar, was contacted, she said it was hard to tell if the men were naval ratings, adding that they might be impersonators.

She said, “If they were put there for a purpose and the purpose has been fulfilled, then it is hard to tell that they are naval ratings. Military camouflage is a unified uniform and apart from the ranks, there is nothing else to tell that they are naval ratings, because they are not in the navy uniform and we have also arrested impostors on several occasions.

“If you really want to get more details, you can come to the base to meet the operations officer, because I am not working in that field.”

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