Army condemns misconduct as soldiers, LASTMA officials clash

Written by on August 15, 2023

The Nigerian Army said it would begin a campaign for traffic compliance amongst its officers as no fewer than five yet-to-be-identified soldiers attacked an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency on Monday.

A 31-second viral video showed the soldiers with scarves to conceal their identities, and at least two civilians, one of whom also masked his face, attacking one of the agency’s officials.

While the LASTMA official kept screaming for leniency, one of the soldiers was seen kicking him with his boot.

Despite his plea for leniency, the soldiers and the civilians descended on him while the official, with a torn LASTMA uniform and rolling on the ground, was repeatedly kicked before the soldiers and the civilians fled the scene.

Meanwhile, a separate 16-second video seen by our correspondent on Monday showed a LASTMA official dragging a soldier out of the front seat of a commercial bus and beating him with his stick.

Though the cause of the brawl was yet to be ascertained as of press time, it is unclear whether the two incidents were related.

Reacting, the spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the Army was working to educate its officials on the need to obey traffic laws.

He said, “I must say it is disturbing that the soldiers/LASTMA conflict is now one too many. The authorities of the Nigerian Army are genuinely concerned and are embarking on a vigorous sensitisation campaign to educate our personnel on the need to ensure compliance with traffic rules and promote synergy and interagency cooperation in Lagos State and around the country.

“To rein in our personnel, the military police have also been mandated to conduct Operation Checkmate by carrying out intermittent surveillance to identify and arrest personnel who violate traffic rules or are found engaging in any untoward activity. The altercations are pointing to the fact that there is a need to strengthen interagency cooperation amongst the security agencies in Lagos.

“Those enforcing the rules must equally be sensitised not to take laws into their hands by physically assaulting or battering offenders. This, more often than not, escalates the situation and results in a violent confrontation.

On his part, the spokesperson for the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Olabisi Ayeni, told PUNCH Metro in a WhatsApp chat that the Army was investigating Friday’s incident.

“I am aware that LASTMA personnel attacked a soldier in uniform on Friday. An investigation into the issue is ongoing,” Ayeni simply stated on Monday.

Speaking, the spokesperson for LASTMA, Taofeek Adebayo, who confirmed Monday’s video through a telephone interview with our correspondent, said LASTMA would respond in due time.

“Be patient with me; it is a sensitive matter. I have to get clearance,” Adebayo simply said on Monday.

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