By Tanveer Shah, Staff Writer
BBC News, Abuja
Many people wait hours in traffic on their way to work Having seen her son, a young primary school teacher, die in her arms, Aniemuu Gambo has demanded an urgent investigation into why she was forced to pay to board a bus after arriving at Lagos’s Lekki toll gate. Twelve months after Aniemuu’s child died, she has been given details of what happened that tragic morning. She told us: “The police told me that around five o’clock on Sunday, I was driving to work. “I explained to them that I was coming to and from work at my workplace.” The officer, Hezekiah Oghuma, said: “I told him that a young man tried to forcibly take over our vehicle and that we couldn’t wait for him to cross the toll gate.” We were thrown down. We were forcefully removed. There was blood on our hands and in our legs and the policemen didn’t even try to put a bandage on our knees and legs
Aniemuu Gambo “But Aniemuu Gambo simply replied that my colleague had a gun and could just shoot his hands to death if he ever tried to cross the toll gate.” Aniemuu Gambo and her fellow passengers, many young mothers, were going to visit a family friend, Rebecca Prince, when she says they were seized by armed policemen. She said: “We were ordered off the bus and thrown down. We were forcefully removed. There was blood on our hands and in our legs and the policemen didn’t even try to put a bandage on our knees and legs.” Despite insisting that her son Hadiza, a primary school teacher, was sitting in the back seat at the time, she was later forced to pay 1,000 naira (about 60p) to the police officer in charge of the toll gate. About £1,500 [nearly $2,000] has been raised by activists to offer compensation to the family but they are not being allowed to see any of the documentation supporting that money, say members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which led the protest to the fence in Lagos. A lawyer for the Gambo family, Andrew Isong, has applied to the Lagos State Government for a forensic examination of CCTV footage from the toll gate. His application will be considered in two weeks. “While recording the finances of the families involved is not the mission of this petition,” he told us, “I want to establish a legal case in respect of gross mismanagement, corruption and inhuman treatment which violates human rights.” “Over the last few months we have heard the Lagos State Government blaming the police in saying that accidents caused by road users in the Lagos State bus park are always the cause of violence,” he said. “While we support the claim that certain road users have an unenviable attitude towards traffic management, we are now confronted with evidence of violent attacks on people like us as a result of the heavy traffic in Lagos State bus park. “We believe it is important to set the records straight regarding the circumstances under which my client’s son died and to learn the truth about the fatal incident.” ‘Big mess’ Aniemuu Gambo is worried that the authorities have moved slowly to fulfil promises to investigate and compensate her family. “It is too early to go back to school or anything,” she said. “I’m not sure what he has gone through in jail or to do with the police officers. I would have liked my son’s body to be buried. “Now I have no option than to find the truth about what happened to my son.” Chris Ugochukwu, whose son had a stroke on the way to hospital the day Aniemuu’s son died, also accused the police of colluding with drivers to drive through the checkpoints, speeding off without paying tolls. “It is the result of the huge mess they are making of this country and we have to work to change it and organise people and change the law that allows drivers to take people’s money and not pay them,” he said. “There are enough checkpoints to avoid clashes and we don’t need to do this. “It is being mismanaged, it is being misused and it is out of control and these checkpoints should be closed. It is criminal. This money should be paid into the people’s account.” Asked for a response, the police did not respond to our request for an interview.
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